Rwanda first Sub-Saharan country to introduce measles-rubella vaccine

Rwanda recently became the first Sub-Saharan African country to introduce a dual measles-rubella vaccine with the help of organizations involved in the Measles and Rubella Initiative.

Rwanda has administered a vaccine to protect against the measles for the past few years, which has lead to a significant decrease in measles cases. There has not been a vaccine, however, to protect against rubella in the region until now.

Measles is characterized by symptoms such as high fever, diarrhea and rashes and kills an estimated 430 people each day worldwide. Rubella produces similar symptoms, but can be deadly for the fetus if the mother contracts it during the first trimester; 100,000 children each year are born with birth defects resulting from congenital rubella syndrome.

Thanks to the efforts of the GAVI Alliance, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Red Cross and other members of the Measles and Rubella Initiative, the measles-rubella vaccine will be offered as a regular immunization in 2014 in Rwanda. Five million children between the ages of nine months and fourteen have already been vaccinated in a recent dual-vaccine campaign.