UNICEF steps up fight against 'avoidable diseases' in Burundi

Bujumbura, Burundi (PANA) – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is assisting the Burundian government step up itsa fight against "avoidable diseases" by introducing the second vaccine dose against measles into the routine national immunization programme with immediate effect, a communiqué said on Tuesday.

According to UNICEF communiqué, over the past few years, the continuous commitment of  Burundi’s government and its partners enabled the country to reach a national immunization rate against measles of 94 per cent and considerably reduce child morbidity and mortality related to the disease.

However, the country has kept recording measles epidemics since 2010 in the municipalities of Bujumbura, Rural  Bujumbura, bordering the Burundian capital, Cibitole and Bubanza, Kirundo and Muyinga.

These epidemics do not only affect children aged from 0 to 11 months, but also older children, UNICEF noted, adding that immunization remains one of the most efficient and least costly health interventions to reduce child morbidity and mortality.

The introduction of the second dose would help strengthen child protection against this highly contagious infection which weakens the immune system, thus opening the door to other infections such as pneumonia and diarrhoea, two of the main causes of mortality among children below five in Burundi, with potentially severe and irreversible complications.

The communiqué said the first and second doses of immunization against measles would help reduce by at least 98 per cent mortality related to the disease.

The cost of immunization campaigns against measles since the year 2000 is about US$70 million and could reach US$100 million in 2016.
-0- PANA FB/JSG/IBA/PAP/MA 15Jan2013

15 january 2013 20:32:36

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