Health workers in Myanmar are vaccinating almost six and a half million kids this week in an effort to protect all children under five from measles. Mid-way through the campaign, monitors are praising Myanmar’s efforts.
“So far the campaign has been excellent,” reports Andrea Gay, director of child health at the UN Foundation and a founding partner in the Measles Initiative which is helping to support the campaign.
“Organization is very good, health workers are highly skilled and families are queueing with their children at the posts. So far we’re optimistic that coverage will be high.”
Independent campaign monitors like Andrea Gay highlight several practices that ensure parents bring their children to the post, and that their vaccination is recorded.
For example, health workers and village leaders are distributing invitation cards to every household, which note the date and location of the health post. Mothers hand these cards in at the post, and volunteers tick the children’s names off a master list as they are vaccinated.
“Health workers are even meticulously noting the vial of vaccine used for each child. It’s encouraging to see the attention to this level of detail,” notes Ms Gay.
Professor Pe Thet Khin, Union Minister of Health launched the campaign this week and underscored Myanmar’s desire to eliminate measles.
Measles cases in Myanmar had dropped sharply after its last nationwide campaign, also supported by the Measles Initiative, in 2007. However cases increased in 2011, and small outbreaks including some deaths have been recorded this year.
“We hope Myanmar continues its effort to reach children everywhere including the harder to reach migrant and remote communities,” said Ms Gay.
“The Measles Initiative aims to reduce global measles deaths by 95% by 2015, and to achieve this all susceptible children must be vaccinated.”
Myanmar’s measles campaign wraps on 31 March. The next step in measles control for the country is to formally introduce a second dose of measles vaccine into its routine schedule. Supported by the GAVI Alliance, Myanmar’s children should have regular access to that crucial second dose within a few months.
Watch this space for photographs and more information about Myanmar’s measles efforts. See www.MeaslesInitiative.org to learn more about the global effort to end measles.