SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2017

The Gambia experiences major vaccine success with measles, polio

The Gambia's vaccine coverage has improved dramatically since 2000, leading to fewer cases of measles, polio, diphtheria and other potentially deadly illnesses, according to a recent World Health Organization report.

The West African country experienced 336 cases of measles in 2000 and six indigenous or imported polio cases in 2000. In 2011, there were no reported cases of either disease in the Gambia. The country also had no reported cases of diphtheria, Hib meningitis, measles, mumps, pertussis or yellow fever in 2011.

The low number of disease cases resulted in part from improved vaccine coverage. The Gambia vaccinated 99 percent of the target population for tuberculosis with the Bacille Calmette Guerin vaccine, 97 percent of the target population with the first dose of the diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid and pertussis vaccine, and 95 percent of the target population with the third dose of the diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid and pertussis vaccine, according to a UNICEF/WHO survey database.

The coverage rates were major improvements from past years in the Gambia. BCG coverage ranged between 84 and 88 percent between 2001 and 2006. The coverage for the third dose of DTP was 74 percent in 2000.

The country also reported 90 percent or above coverage rates in 2011 for the hepatitis B birth dose, the third dose of Haemophilus influenzae type B, measles-containing vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate doses one and three, the third dose of polio vaccine and yellow fever vaccine.