UNICEF Watch [to 10 January 2015]

UNICEF Watch [to 10 January 2015]

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:: UNICEF helps restart measles immunizations in Ebola-hit countries
ENEVA/DAKAR/CONAKRY/FREETOWN/MONROVIA, 9 January 2015 – UNICEF is helping governments and communities restart stalled immunizations amid a surge in measles cases in Ebola-affected countries, where health systems are overwhelmed and tens of thousands of children are left vulnerable to deadly diseases.

“Measles is a major killer of children that can easily be stopped through a safe and effective vaccine,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “But immunization rates have dropped significantly, further threatening children’s lives.”

In Guinea, where a measles outbreak was declared in early 2014 – prior to Ebola – the number of confirmed measles cases increased almost fourfold, from 59 between January and December 2013 to 215 for the same period in 2014, according to WHO. In Sierra Leone, the figure tripled from 13 to 39 over the same period.

In Liberia, which had reported no measles in 2013, four cases have been confirmed in Lofa County, one of the areas hardest hit by Ebola.
The increase in cases of measles – a highly contagious disease – is of particular concern as a drop in immunization coverage rates has left children vulnerable at a time when measles transmission traditionally peaks in West Africa, between December and March…

…As vaccinators venture out to provide lifesaving vaccines, which in many cases are long overdue, they also help with the control of the Ebola outbreak. In compliance with infection prevention and control (IPC) procedures and WHO guidelines on immunization in the context of an Ebola outbreak, UNICEF is providing not only vaccines, but also kits that include gloves and infrared thermometers for vaccinators. Vaccinators are being trained on infection prevention and control measures, supervision during immunization activities, and on how to conduct outreach sessions in areas which have not reported an Ebola case for 42 days…