Ministry of Health Launches Nationwide Measles Rubella Vaccination Campaign

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By Millicent Senava Mannah

The Ministry of Health has officially launched the Measles Rubella Vaccination campaign, aimed at protecting children from the highly infectious disease. The landmark event took place on June 28, 2024 at Family Kingdom in Aberdeen, Freetown.

Dr. Austin Demby, the Minister of Health, emphasized the importance of the vaccination, urging parents to ensure their children receive the vaccine. Sharing a personal story, Dr. Demby recounted how his niece became deaf due to a measles infection, highlighting the severe consequences of the disease. He reiterated the existence of laws mandating vaccination and affirmed that it is every child’s right to be vaccinated.

“These children’s lives matter,” Dr. Demby stated. “Measles is a killer and can leave a lasting impact on its victims. Vaccination is crucial to preventing these outcomes.”

Dr. Desmond Maada Kangbai, Program Manager for the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), provided an overview of the event. He explained that the initiative to launch the Measles Rubella Vaccination campaign began two years ago in response to sporadic cases of the disease. In 2024, an increase in reported cases underscored the urgency of the campaign.

“We are starting the vaccination campaign immediately, not only in Freetown but across all 16 districts in the country,” Dr. Desmond Maada Kangbai announced. “The health of our children is paramount and the recent surge in measles cases poses a significant threat to their well-being.”

Evans Majani Liyosi, the Resident Coordinator of the World Health Organization (WHO), praised the launch as a critical step in combating diseases affecting children. He stressed that investing in preventive measures like vaccination would significantly improve child health and reaffirmed the WHO’s commitment to supporting the Government’s efforts.

UNICEF Country Representative, Rudolph Schwenk, highlighted the extensive resources required for the campaign. He revealed that thousands of frontline vaccinators would be involved in the project, necessitating significant financial and technical support. Rudolph Schwenk noted that more than $1 million worth of measles vaccines from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and UNICEF have been provided to complement the Government’s efforts.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sattie Kenneh, emphasized the need to educate the public on the importance of vaccination. “We must explain why we are vaccinating children and the difference between vaccination and immunization,” he said. Dr. Sattie Kenneh also highlighted the introduction of a second vaccine dose and the administration of Vitamin A supplements for children aged six to fifteen years.

The launch of the Measles Rubella Vaccination campaign, it was underscored, marks a significant step in safeguarding the health of Sierra Leone’s children, ensuring a brighter and healthier future for the nation’s youngest citizens.


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