15 January 2013

Burundi Introduces Second Dose of Measles Vaccine

press release

Bujumbura — Reinforces outstanding progress in reducing toll of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases

Burundi is strengthening its efforts to fight preventable diseases by introducing the second dose of measles vaccine into its national routine immunisation programme.

The introduction will reinforce Burundi's outstanding progress in recent years in reducing the deadly toll of measles. Globally, measles claims the lives of more than 139,000 children every year.

Reduction in child morbidity and mortality

Thanks to the ongoing commitment of the Government of Burundi and of its partners, including GAVI Alliance, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Measles and Rubella Initiative (MRI) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Burundi has achieved a 94 percent national immunisation coverage rate for measles. This has led to a significant reduction in child morbidity and mortality caused by this disease.

However, Burundi continues to experience measles outbreaks, such as outbreaks between 2010 and 2012 in the provinces of Bujumbura Mairie, Bujumbura Rural, Cibitole, Bubanza, Kirundo and Muyinga. These outbreaks affect newborn babies, 11-month-old children and older children too.

Right for all children

Johannes Wedenig, UNICEF Representative in Burundi, said: "Immunisation continues to be one of the most effective and least costly health interventions in the world to lower child morbidity and mortality. This is a right that must be guaranteed for all children, including the most vulnerable and marginalised. The Government of Burundi's decision to introduce the second dose of the measles vaccine is contributing to guarantee this right and to improve the health of children in Burundi."

As part of regular immunisation activities, the introduction of measles second dose vaccine will bolster the protection of children against a highly contagious disease that weakens the immune system and paves the way for other infections such as pneumonia and diarrhoea - two of the leading causes of mortality in children under five in Burundi - with potentially severe and irreversible complications, especially in a context of malnutrition. In Burundi, 58 percent of children suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Immunisation continues to be one of the most effective and least costly health interventions in the world to lower child morbidity and mortality

Progress in immunisation

Progress in global immunisation over the last few years, made possible through partnerships like GAVI, has brought about major advances in fighting child mortality. From 2000 to 2012, vaccination against measles (first and second doses) has lowered mortality by 98 percent.

Since 2002, GAVI funding allocated for immunisation in Burundi amounts to US$ 70 million; this will climb to nearly US$ 100 million by 2016.

Mother-child health week

The introduction ceremony for the second dose of the measles vaccine in Burundi was scheduled at the same time as the mother-child health week; this runs from 15 to 18 January and is organised by the Burundian Ministry of Public Health and Fight Against AIDS with support from its partners.

During this week, health activities will be held throughout the country for children and pregnant women. Vitamin A will be distributed to more than 1.4 million children aged six to 59 months old; more than 3.7 million children aged one to 14 year, as well as almost 300,000 pregnant women, will be dewormed. Almost 300,000 pregnant women will receive iron and folic acid supplementation.

GAVI is funded by the following governments, as well as private, corporate and foundation donors: Absolute Return for Kids (ARK), Anglo American plc, Australia, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Brazil, Canada, The Children's Investment Fund Foundation (UK), Comic Relief, Denmark, European Commission (EC), France, Germany, His Highness Sheikh Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ireland, Italy, JP Morgan, Japan, 'la Caixa' Foundation, LDS Charities, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Other private donors, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America.

For further information:

Ariane Leroy

GAVI Alliance

+41 79 340 1878

+41 22 909 6521

Anne-Isabelle Leclercq

UNICEF Burundi

+257 79 948 118

+257 22 20 20 80

Dr. Rose Marie Magnifique NDUWIMANA

WHO Burundi

(+257) 79735106/75835106

(+257) 231702/22533400

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