UN agencies back Zambian vaccination campaign against measles

A child being vaccinated against measles

20 July 2010 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are this week helping authorities in Zambia as they try to immunize more than 1.6 million children following a deadly outbreak of measles in the Southern African nation.

A national campaign began yesterday in Lusaka, the capital, and will continue until Friday, according to a press release issued by UNICEF, which said the vaccinators are targeting children aged between nine months and 47 months.

At least 78 people have been killed and nearly 3,000 cases recorded during the current outbreak of measles, with the area in and around the capital the worst affected.

Measles is highly contagious and can be spread through coughing or sneezing. It can also cause severe complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and encephalitis.

UNICEF representative Charles Lolika stressed that UN agencies would continue to work with the Zambian authorities to try to improve child health in the country. This week’s vaccination campaign will also include polio immunization in 30 districts deemed to be high risk.

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