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WHO, UNICEF campaign to eradicate measles in Afghanistan

The second phase of UNICEF and WHO’s Global Plan for Reducing Measles Mortality campaign is planned to resume on February 18 in Afghanistan. In May 2007, the rest of the provinces in the North, Northeast and Central areas of Afghanistan will participate in the third phase of the campaign. The WHO/UNICEF Global Immunization Vision and Strategy (GIVS) calls on countries to reduce global measles deaths by 90 percent by 2010. Afghanistan is one of 47 priority nations to be targeted in the 2006-2010 campaign for the implementation of accelerated sustainable measles mortality reduction activities.

After seeing a rise in Afghan reported measles cases from 559 in 2004 to more than 1800 in 2006, the global partnership agreed to support another round of supplementary measles immunization in Afghanistan in 2006-7 for children 9 months to 5-years-old. The joint campaign involves both a house-to-house strategy to immunize mothers aged 15-45 years against tetanus and a fixed center strategy to immunize children aged 9 to 59 months against measles and polio.

Measles is a highly contagious virus spread through airborne droplets, notably through coughing and sneezing, and either close or direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected persons. The emphasis on the reduction of measles is due to the fact that this acute viral illness remains a leading cause of death for young children. Severe measles is particularly likely in malnourished children, especially those who lack sufficient vitamin A or whose immune systems have been weakened by diseases such as HIV/AIDS.



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