A three-week countrywide campaign got off Saturday to vaccinate 35 million children against measles under a donor-aided programme for immunising Bangladesh against the deadly diseases, reports UNB.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain inaugurated the second phase of Bangladesh Measles Catch-up Campaign at a function at the Dhaka Shishu Hospital.
"The second phase of the campaign aims to make a second chance for all the children aged from 9 months to below 10 years to take measles vaccine to control the disease," the minister said.
Mosharraf urged the parents to take their children, irrespective of their previous measles-vaccination status or illness, to the vaccination centres.
The vaccination programme, organised by the government with the help of international donors, would cover more than 90 per cent of the targeted children.
The function was also addressed, among others, by Ambassador of Japan Horiguchi, UNICEF representative Louis-Georges Arsenault, WHO representative Duangvedee Sungkhobol, American Red Cross representative Anthalia Christie, United Nations Foundation representative Andrea Gay, CDC-Atlanta representative David M Gittelman, Director General of Health Md Shahadat Hossain, Secretary of Health and Family Welfare A K M Jafar Ullah Khan and Director General of Family Planning Department M A Akmal Hossain.
Khandakar Mosharraf said an estimated 20,000 children under five years of age annually die from measles alone in Bangladesh, making it the fifth leading cause of death in this age group.
Besides EPI centres, a total of 261,948 vaccination centres in 100,000 schools and 150,000 clinics have been set up throughout the country for the drive.
The UNICEF representative said that in Bangladesh routine measles-vaccination coverage is 71 per cent. And with vaccine effectiveness of 85 per cent when given at 9 months of age, it is estimated that 45 per cent of children in each birth cohort remain susceptible to the disease due to dropout, left out, and failure to develop immunity.
The Japanese Ambassador, Horiguchi, said the measles campaign would involve nearly 50,000 trained vaccinators and 746,640 volunteers. And 40 million doses of vaccines and 44 million syringes will be used.
The World Health Organisation, United Nations Fund, UNICEF, American Red Cross, US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and Japan government are assisting the campaign.