MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2018

Rwandan success leads to use of dual-vaccine

Rwanda's success at fighting measles has lead to it becoming the first country to receive donor support to fight rubella, or German measles.

In mid-March, Rwanda plans to hold a nationwide vaccination campaign using a combined measles-rubella vaccine. The campaign is design to reach nearly five million children up the age of 14. Upon its completion, Rwanda plans to integrate the dual vaccine into its national health service program, according to the New York Times.

Christine McNab, a spokeswoman for the Measles and Rubella Initiative, said that her organization would help pay for the upcoming vaccine program because of its previous success against measles. The GAVI Alliance plans to fund Rwanda's next campaign.

Rubella causes a rash that is similar to the one caused by measles, making it difficult for health workers to tell the difference between the two. It is generally mild in nature, but can cause serious birth defects if contracted by pregnant women.

McNab said that Rwandan healthcare workers have proven adept at discerning between measles and rubella and that the country would benefit from the newer, more expensive dual-vaccine. More than 90 percent of Rwandan children have been vaccinated against measles twice and the number of cases has been near zero for almost five years, the New York Times reports.