Measles and polio vaccination campaigns resume despite COVID-19 outages – Lebanon


The Ministry of Public Health launches the second phase of the national measles and polio vaccination campaign in collaboration with WHO and UNICEF

14 October 2020 – The Ministry of Public Health, in collaboration with WHO and UNICEF, today announced the start of the second phase of the national measles and polio immunization campaign. The campaign will be piloted until October 25 in the districts of Keserwan and Hasbaya and will be followed by the rest of the governorates and districts (Beirut, Mount Lebanon, Bekaa, Sud and Nabatiyeh) from November 2 until the end of the year.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the provision of immunization services has been disrupted threatening to reverse the hard-won progress in reaching children with essential vaccines. Weakened immunity against measles has been a growing risk across Lebanon since 2018, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further fueled a significant drop in immunization rates, exacerbating existing disruptions in health care provision, leaving children more vulnerable to diseases preventable through immunization.

After the completion of the first phase in December 2019 in Akkar, in the north, in the Baalbeck-Hermel governorates, the second phase of the campaign against measles and polio will be conducted in 5 governorates: Beirut, Mount Lebanon, Bekaa, South and Nabatieh. children aged 6 months to 10 years. The vaccination campaign will be conducted in primary health centers, dispensaries and temporary vaccination sites.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Hamad Hassan, launched the campaign, noting that “The second phase of the campaign will be conducted in compliance with the COVID 19 precautionary measures. All vaccination teams have been trained on Infection, prevention and control measures and equipped with personal protective equipment. Temporary vaccination sites have been chosen in open spaces and the facility is thoroughly disinfected to make immunization safe from any contamination. Children and their caregivers will be screened for COVID-19 at the points of vaccination and any suspected cases referred directly for medical screening. Optimal infection, prevention and control measures will be implemented at all vaccination points to minimize COVID-19 transmission. “

“It is vital not to lose the gains in vaccination coverage that Lebanon has achieved over the past decade. WHO is supporting the measles vaccination campaign to ensure that children can be spared from this serious, preventable and preventable disease. No children. should be left behind, health protection and disease prevention is a human right, ”said Samar Hammoud, the official in charge of the WHO representative in Lebanon, Dr Iman Shankiti.

“In today’s context, in which COVID 19 already weakens the entire population, it is of primary importance to better protect children and increase their immunity against diseases we know, such as measles or polio and for which we have a vaccine that save the children, “said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF representative in Lebanon. “Although we have experienced new challenges and a setback in the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases due to COVID-19, we have tried to consistently maintain immunization services. Together, we are committed to reaching every child and campaigning vaccination will be back on track. “

Dr Randa Hamadeh, head of the primary health care department at the Ministry of Public Health, spoke about the importance of the campaign, saying that “1.5 million children die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. , the Corona pandemic has caused a drop in children’s immunization rates, reaching a decrease rate of 47% in Lebanon. The challenges are innumerable in returning vaccination indicators to their pre-corona pandemic state (over 96%) , and this can only be achieved by joint efforts between the vaccination program in the PHC Department of the Ministry of Public Health, WHO, UNICEF and our partners in the private health sector. This is the time for solidarity and action, so let’s work together to reach all children, regardless of their nationality, their right, and this is our responsibility! “

The national immunization campaign is funded through generous support from the Kuwait Fund for Development and targets a total of 364,130 children aged 6 months to 10 years of age. Already 231,200 were reached last December in Baalbek Hermel, North and Akkar. We are now reaching BML, South Nabatieh, Bekaa. All children will also receive vaccination with the bivalent oral polio vaccine. The children will be reached in primary health centers / dispensaries and at temporary vaccination sites.

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