UN: 600,000 Liberian children to get measles, polio vaccination

New York, US (PANA) - Hundreds of thousands of Liberian children who missed out on
life-saving vaccinations against measles and polio because of the Ebola virus last year,
will now get vaccinated, UN agencies said Friday.

A UN statement, obtained by PANA in New York, said a joint campaign by the Liberian
government, World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF),
the first since the Ebola outbreak, aims to vaccinate more than 600,000 children
against the two preventable diseases.

While readying to declare the country Ebola-free, WHO said that one of the challenges was convincing parents that it is now safe to bring their children to health centres.

The announcement of the mass-immunisation programme is the first after a warning from Liberia's health ministry that disruption from Ebola has created "an alarming immunity gap" in the country.

"Since the killer disease (Ebola) was raging last year, it was deemed too dangerous to hold mass vaccinations, which dropped 45 per cent compared with 2013," it said.

The Ebola virus disease disrupted health services and left huge numbers of children susceptible to measles and polio.

"Services have been overwhelmed and, of course, parents have been frightened also. The concern that health centres have been associated with Ebola has kept parents away from having their children vaccinated. So, we know that there's a large cohort of children who have missed their vaccinations for over a year," said a WHO official, Ms. Margaret Harris.

The week-long campaign aims to protect 683,000 children against polio and more than 600,000 against measles -- both diseases are preventable through vaccination.

According to Harris, Liberia remains on course to be declared Ebola-free on Saturday, which is 42 days after the last confirmed case of the disease which has cost more than 11,000 lives.

However, the country's health ministry said there was still a risk of transmission from neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone.
-0- PANA   AA/AR  8May2015

08 may 2015 17:08:59

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