International medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says it has vaccinated 213 000 children from the Central African Republic (CAR) against nine common but deadly diseases.
In a statement released on July 18, MSF said the preventive vaccination program began in 2015 and continued throughout 2016 and 2017. The program targeted children under 5 years of age who missed out on routine vaccinations due to wars and instability in the past decade.
“More than one million doses of the vaccines administered will protect the children from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, influenza, hepatitis B, pneumonia, yellow fever, and measles,” the organization said.
This preventive vaccination campaign covered six of the seven health districts across the war-torn country. It was launched to improve general vaccination coverage for children under 5 following MSF surveys which found child mortality rates from preventable illnesses like polio and measles above the emergency threshold.
“Immunization rates got worse in the aftermath of the civil war that took place in 2013-2014, when the percentage of children immunized collapsed. Official figures showed that from 2012 to 2014, the number of children vaccinated against measles fell from 64% to 25%, and those vaccinated against acute respiratory infections fell from 52% to 20%,” the organisation said,
Follow-up studies by MSF field staff showed that immunization coverage in the targeted areas rose to around 80% after the first round. Due to gaps and complications, some vaccines required more than one dose to be fully effective.