21 February 2008 In partnership with the Government of Cameroon and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the United Nations has vaccinated more than 35,000 infants and children against measles and polio in the country's north-east, which is hosting tens of thousands of refugees from neighbouring Chad.
The five-day drive that began 13 February was carried out in the district of Kousséri, where an estimated 30,000 Chadians have taken refuge after fleeing their homeland in recent weeks due to deadly fighting between Government forces and armed opposition groups.
UN Resident Coordinator for Cameroon Sophie de Caen noted that whenever there are population movements, the potential for epidemics rises substantially. “We have immediately taken action, to ensure that all children in the affected area were protected against the most dangerous diseases,” she stated.
All infants and children above six months of age and below 15 years of age were vaccinated against measles, and all those under five, including newborns, were vaccinated against polio.
“The vaccination campaign targeted all infants and children comprised in applicable age groups, across the district, ensuring protection for Cameroonian and refugee children alike,” said Silvia Luciani, acting Representative of the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) in Cameroon.
“Mass immunizations are designed to reach as many children as possible, in order to provide the greatest achievable coverage. They are vital to child survival in any environment, peaceful or otherwise,” she added.
Along with the vaccinations, vitamin A supplement tablets were also provided to some 34,000 children. “Besides potentially averting deadly epidemics, we have been able to seize this opportunity, to improve the children's overall health and immunity system through the provision of vitamin A,” Hélène Mambu-ma-Disu, Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Cameroon, said.
Some 110 vaccinators took part in the campaign, which was made possible through funds from the Ministry of Health, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), UNICEF, WHO, the Red Cross Movement, Médecins Sans Frontières – Switzerland and the Organization of Coordination for the Control of Endemic Diseases in Central Africa.
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