DR Congo launches measles campaign

The Democratic Republic of Congo launched a new measles campaign on Tuesday in an effort to vaccinate more than six million children against the potentially deadly disease.

The DRC launched the campaign in the provinces of Equateur and Orientale with the assistance of UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the GAVI Alliance. The campaign's goal is to vaccinate 6,809,321 children between the ages of six months and nine years against measles.

"Strengthening routine immunization and providing supplemental campaigns like the one launched today have the potential to reduce illnesses and deaths from measles," Seth Berkley, the CEO of the GAVI Alliance, said.

Measles mainly affects children under the age of five and is a leading cause of death among children. According to national health sources in the DRC, 70,997 cases were reported since the start of the year, resulting in the deaths of 1,120 children.

"All children have the right to life," Barbara Bentein, the DRC representative for UNICEF, said. "It is our collective responsibility to ensure that they grow up healthy. Controlling measles requires the commitment of all. Parents, health workers, social mobilizers, Government and development partners - each of us plays a key role in the success of this campaign."

The campaign will also give two drops of polio vaccine to children under the age of five years old. Thanks to previous vaccination campaigns, the polio virus has not been seen in the DRC since December 2011.