NAIROBI, 21 December 2011 (IRIN) – Amid rising measles and polio cases, tens of thousands of children are being targeted for immunization in health campaigns in affected regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
At least 128,965 measles cases, with 1,573 deaths, have been recorded in the DRC in 2011, and 89 wild polio-virus type 1 cases had been reported up to 13 December, UNICEF said.
The current campaign against measles in Kinshasa is targeting at least 1.7 million children aged 6-59 months.
Alphonse Toko, UNICEF’s immunization specialist in the DRC, said: “Vaccination is the most efficient tool to protect children from epidemics that kill or paralyze”.
On 16 December, Health Minister Victor Makwenge Kaput urged parents to get their children vaccinated.
A door-to-door polio vaccination initiative using mobile health teams, which started on 19 December, will end on 21 December in the provinces of Bandundu, Bas-Congo, Kasaï Oriental, Katanga, Maniema and South Kivu, where at least 1.1 million children under five are being targeted.
The polio virus re-emerged in the DRC in 2006, with 13 cases being recorded at that time, before peaking at 100 cases in 2010.