After months of preparation, MOH together with their partners WHO and UNICEF conducted a National Measles Rubella vaccination campaign from the 19 to 30 November 2018. The launch of the event was at Asmara Community Hospital. The main objectives were to introduce new Measles Rubella vaccine, a pathway for measles elimination in the country and a proved way to minimize occurrence of neonatal rubella syndrome.
The Honorable Minister of Health, Mrs Amina Nurhussein launched the campaign in the presence of Representative of Minister of Education, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Mrs. Luul Ghebreab; Maekel Region Governor, Mohammed Awliay, UN Agencies representatives, the Resident Coordinator, Ms. Susan Namondo Ngongi; WHO Representative for Eritrea, Dr Josephine Namboze; UNICEF Representative for Eritrea, Dr. Pierre Ngom; Director Generals of MOH; Journalists, Heath Workers, parents as well as children. They launched the campaign with giving vitamin A supplementation to the children gathered.
The Honorable Minister of Health, Mrs Amina Nurhussein said that Eritrea's success in immunization has been globally recognized and repeatedly labeled as exceptional. She emphasized that Measles Rubella immunization is cost-effective and will also prevent these diseases and their complications. She expressed her gratitude to the partners for their contribution to the success of EPI program and the current campaign which would deliver vaccination to about 1,500,000 children under 15 years given in 298 permanent and 405 provisional outreach vaccination centers and schools across the nation, with about 1500 health workers, four member teams providing the service. At the same time, vitamin A was to be delivered to about 500,000 children 6 months to 5 years. The coverage expected to be reached is approximately 95%.
After congratulating the Government of the State of Eritrea, for the remarkable achievement made in the reductions in childhood deaths, Dr Josephine Namboze, WHO Representative for Eritrea said that during this year's national campaign, the United Nations and partners are continuing their commitment to support Eritrea Ministry of Health in fighting measles. She added that during this campaign, rubella vaccination will be introduced. It was incredibly important that all children aged 9 months to 14 years are vaccinated against measles and rubella during this catch up campaign, even if they have previously been vaccinated. The campaign also provides an exceptional opportunity for other public health activities, such as receiving Vitamin A supplements, toward reducing the burden of related conditions. Dr Josephine applauded the successful planning activities and expressed the WHO's readiness to continue collaborating with MOH on these key programs.
Dr. Pierre Ngom, UNICEF Representative noted the major preparatory activities completed and urged the implementers and supervisors to work hard to ensure a successful campaign. He also applauded the Ministry of Health on the sustained high immunization coverage which had resulted in a number of global awards given to the EPI Program.
The supervisory teams were then flagged off to all the six Zobas in the country. Among the responsibilities of the supervisors, were to carry out intra-campaign monitoring in selected sites. It is expected that by the first week of December, the initial coverage results will be shared and WHO will then carry out an independent post campaign coverage survey to verify the results.