TANZANIA is set to conduct a nationwide measles -rubella and polio vaccination campaign mid this month, targeting children under five years.
Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu said over the weekend that the campaign was part of the implementation of the government plan to reduce number of deaths and disabilities, resulting from vaccine preventable illness.
Ms Mwalimu said that the campaign was earlier scheduled for last month but it was postponed to October 17 to 21 this year.
"This campaign will be conducted all over the country, targeting children under five years ... I call upon the public to collaborate with the government to make it successful," Ms Mwalimu said.
Giving measles status in the country, the minister said that last month, the disease was reported in Kashasha and Kakoma divisions and Kibare Village in Kyerwa in Kagera region.
A total of 17 patients were detected with measles virus, of which seven patients were confirmed after undergoing laboratory tests. She said that the last patient with measles symptoms was reported on September 14 this year in Kibare area.
"There is no other patient reported in the past two weeks, and those who contracted the disease have recovered ... health personnel were educating people on preventive measures against the disease and creating awareness about the nationwide campaign on measles /rubella," she said.
She said that for September alone, a total of 222 samples for measles suspected patients from 23 regions in the Mainland were taken to the national laboratory.
Ms Mwalimu, however, said that for the past 23 years, there was no polio patient reported in the country. "Since 1996, there is no person confirmed to have polio in the country ... this is due to the government commitment to invest in immunization and making close follow up of patients with the disease symptoms," Ms Mwalimu said.
She said the government also procured polio vaccine which was administered to all children under five by 90 per cent.
Ms Mwalimu said that in taking preventive measures against the disease, the health personnel have been making follow up of all patients with Acute Flaccid Paralysis - AFP by taking samples for screening to establish whether they have contracted the disease.
Last month, Dafroza Lyimo, the Immunization Programme Manager in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children, said that the measles and rubella vaccination campaign was scheduled after it was realized that a huge number of children did not complete earlier doses, thus risk contracting the disease.
"One of the key challenges was all those children who missed the first dose, are creating a pathway to new outbreaks," Lyimo said.