CONGO: Government launches measles vaccination campaign

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Congolese government has launched a five-day nationwide measles vaccination campaign to be accompanied by the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets to reduce malaria.

"The role of the media is crucial in the provision of information and in the mobilisation of the population to ensure their [the population's] participation," Emillienne Raoul, the minister of health, said on 15 October. According to the government the success of the campaign would require the contribution of all the relevant sectors and the community.

Children between the ages of six months and five years will also be dewormed and provided with vitamin A supplements during the campaign aimed at reducing infant mortality and realising Millennium Development Goals, according to the government.

In October 2004, the country conducted a similar measles vaccination campaign targeting children between the ages of six months and 14 years, reducing the number of suspected cases of measles by 80 percent.

However, measles continues to be a leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality in the country despite the setting up of the extended immunisation programme in the 1980s.

Acute respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition and other vaccination-preventable diseases remain the leading causes of infant and juvenile mortality in sub-Saharan Africa.

Measles is one of the leading causes of vaccine-preventable deaths in children. According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), measles leads to at least 900,000 deaths worldwide, with 60 percent of them (500,000) occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.


Malaria is also a major public health problem in the Republic of Congo affecting all age groups, particularly children under five and pregnant women. The disease is responsible for at least 45 percent of all hospital consultations and leads to between 50 and 60 percent of hospitalisations for children under five, according to the Ministry of Health.

Vitamin A deficiency among children leads to reduced disease resistance, slows growth and may lead to blindness, according to specialists.

Improving the vitamin A status of children between six and 59 months increases their chances of surviving diseases such as measles, diarrhoea and respiratory ailments by 25 percent, according to studies.

Worm infestation affects children's health leading to malnutrition, anaemia and even death.

Source: IRIN
See Also