Published Date: 2010-02-04 14:52:04
Subject: PRO/EAFR> Measles - Namibia (02): (Kunene)
Archive Number: 20100204.205285
MEASLES - NAMIBIA (02): (KUNENE)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Wed 3 Feb 2010
Source: New Era (Namibia) [edited]
Mass measles vaccination drive launched in Opuwo
The Ministry of Health and Social Services will next week [week of 8
Feb 2010] embark on a mass vaccination campaign against measles in
the Opuwo Health District of the Kunene Region.
The targets for the campaign are all the residents of the Opuwo
Health District except pregnant mothers and children under the age of
6 months. The population of the health district is about 45 000.
The week-long campaign, which starts next Tuesday [9 Feb 2010],
ending on [15 Feb 2010], comes in the wake of a prolonged measles
outbreak in the Kunene Region. Since the 1st case was reported on [19
Sep 2009] the number of cases had risen to 1253 by Monday this week
[1 Feb 2010]. The disease has killed 15 people while 12 others are
admitted at the Isolation Treatment Centre at the Opuwo District
Minister, Dr Richard Nchabi Kamwi, launched the campaign yesterday [2
Feb 2010] in the presence of the deputy minister of defence, Victor
Simunja, the regional governor Dudu Murorua, regional councillors,
representatives of different recognized traditional authorities, and
Although the other districts such as Sesfontein, Outjo, and Khorixas
have also reported some cases, the affected are children under the
age of 5 years while the cases in Opuwo are from all age groups.
"This mass vaccination is required because we have come to realise
that people in Opuwo have little or no protection against measles,"
said Kamwi. This situation arises from the fact that many parents
have not been taking their children for vaccination and have not
developed immunity against the disease, Kamwi said, adding that the
vaccination will protect the population from getting the disease and
its complications, which can kill.
The schedule for the campaign will be communicated through a
technical team that is working to finalize the details at the
ministry's headquarters in Windhoek.
The Ministry of Defence has come on board with personnel and
ambulances to assist in fighting the outbreak. The ministry has
already dispatched four ambulances and 10 of its medical personnel
who will join the health staff in the campaign. Other personnel and
vehicles will also be dispatched next week [week of 8 Feb 2010].
Deputy minister Simunja said Cabinet had directed the defence
ministry to deploy some of its staff for the duration of the exercise.
Simunja said that apart from defending the territorial integrity of
Namibia, the defence force was also tasked to help in emergency
situations such as disease outbreaks.
Kamwi called on other institutions to support the campaign by
availing human and material resources.
"The vehicles, venues, tents, mass mobilization efforts to make the
people understand the importance of the vaccination campaign,
supporting vaccinators to get access to the population and others
will be required by each and every one of us," he told the gathering
that witnessed the launch. He also urged the regional health
directors to work together with surveillance officers and report any
suspected case of measles.
"I want us to put down this epidemic forthwith. There is no reason
why measles should be a problem. We have the resources" he said.
Measles is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus,
which presents a variety of symptoms including fever, runny nose,
cough, red eyes, and rash. Measles is spread through respiration and
is highly contagious. It is a leading cause of vaccine-preventable
childhood mortality. Unvaccinated populations are at risk of
contracting the disease, which has killed 200 million people globally
in the past 150 years.
[Byline: Wezi Tjaronda]
[Kunene region has been plagued by measles outbreaks since September
2009. The outbreaks are mainly attributable to low vaccination
coverage and hence the need to conduct the mass measles immunization
campaign in the region to protect all the unvaccinated cohorts.
A map showing the regions of Namibia can be seen at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regions_of_Namibia, and the
HealthMap/ProMED interactive map of Namibia is available at
http://healthmap.org/r/009I. - Mod.JFW]