As part of a campaign launched by the Ministry of Health, 95 per cent of the 7.5 million children susceptible to the measles will be vaccinated. The campaign is taking place in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Viet Nam.
This effort, implemented by the National Expanded Programme for Immunisation (EPI), will strive to meet the goal of eliminating measles across the country by 2012.
From mid-September to the end of November, vaccinations will be carried out in 690 districts and 11,074 communes of 63 provinces nationwide.
Measles is a highly contagious disease that is transmitted via the respiratory tract. It can cause severe complications like diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition.
"Good investment, b political commitment and involvement from central to local levels, a capable healthcare system and community support are the preconditions for reversing perilous infectious diseases," said Deputy Health Minister Trinh Quan Huan at the launch ceremony on Sunday.
WHO representative in Viet Nam Jean Marc Olive said that in order for the campaign to be successful, no child could be missed. "A missed child means an unprotected child capable of infecting others and perpetuating the spread of measles," he said.
UNICEF, WHO and the UN foundation have donated 8.1 million doses of measles vaccine to Viet Nam, trained health workers, produced communication materials and supported mobile teams operating in remote areas for the campaign.
This is not the first measles prevention campaign undertaken by the Vietnamese Government. In 2002-2003, the Government conducted the largest ever nationwide measles prevention campaign targeting 15 million children under 10 years of age. In 2004, an additional small-scale vaccination campaign in selected mountainous districts was conducted. And in 2007-2008, a campaign targeting the under 20 year old population took place. These campaigns helped to dramatically reduce the incidence of measles in Viet Nam.
According to EPI statistics, measles outbreaks occurred throughout the country, with more than 1,600 cases reported during the first eight months of 2010. Of these 1,600 cases, nearly 1,100 occurred in the South.
According to WHO, measles is still one of the leading causes of death among children world-wide, causing about 200,000 fatalities per year. — VNS