TANZANIA—The Ministry of Health in Tanzania, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners, has undertaken a significant vaccination campaign aimed at safeguarding approximately 8 million Tanzanian children from measles and rubella.

This initiative comes in response to recent outbreaks of measles observed across various regions of the country since July 2022, which have impacted numerous districts and resulted in the infection of thousands of children between June 2022 and May 2023.

Ms. Lortalis Gadau, a program officer at the Ministry of Health, reported at least 3,923 confirmed cases during this outbreak period.

Recognizing the vital role of child immunization in reducing morbidity and mortality rates, Ms. Ummy Mwalimu, the Minister of Health in Tanzania, emphasized the significance of the measles vaccine campaign in combatting this virus.

Over the past two years, Tanzania has faced recurring measles outbreaks, affecting over 1,500 children and leading to more than 30 deaths. Alarmingly, approximately 80% of the children afflicted by measles were not vaccinated.

To address this challenge, the Ministry of Health, in partnership with the WHO and other stakeholders, conducted various surveillance exercises and launched an intensive vaccination campaign targeting children aged 12 to 52 months across the nation.

The WHO, in collaboration with the Tanzanian government, has spearheaded comprehensive preparations, including national vaccination campaigns and measles vaccination activities, as part of its integration efforts with COVID-19 response measures.

These preparations encompass multiple facets such as healthcare worker training, technical capacity enhancement, vaccine storage optimization, community engagement, and robust supervision, monitoring, and evaluation mechanisms to ensure the effective delivery of vaccines.

Despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine, measles remains a significant global health concern, causing approximately 120,000 deaths annually worldwide.

In the speech delivered on behalf of the Country Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Charles Sagoe-Moses, Dr. William Mwengee, WHO’s Immunization Officer, commended the government for their collaborative efforts.

 He emphasized the importance of not only conducting a nationwide campaign but also advocated for the adoption of a comprehensive implementation plan by all stakeholders.

This plan will focus on enhancing routine immunization service delivery and bolstering surveillance of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Dr. Mwengee assured the Tanzanian government of WHO’s commitment, along with UNICEF and other immunization partners, to provide both human and financial resources necessary to achieve high immunization coverage and timely disease surveillance, ultimately aiming to eliminate measles and rubella in the country.

Measles, being highly contagious and potentially severe, poses a significant threat, particularly to children, and can lead to severe complications and fatalities if left unchecked.

It spreads easily through respiratory droplets expelled by infected individuals through coughing or sneezing.

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