Govt rolls out measles-rubella vaccine

RWANDA has become the first country in Africa to introduce the combined Rubella-Measles vaccine. A nationwide vaccination campaign against the two diseases was launched yesterday in Kibeho sector of Nyaruguru district and is set to conclude on Friday.
Minister Gasinzigwa immunises a baby as she launches the vaccination week in Nyaruguru District yesterday.  The New Times/ Courtsey.
Minister Gasinzigwa immunises a baby as she launches the vaccination week in Nyaruguru District yesterday. The New Times/ Courtsey.

RWANDA has become the first country in Africa to introduce the combined Rubella-Measles vaccine.

A nationwide vaccination campaign against the two diseases was launched yesterday in Kibeho sector of Nyaruguru district and is set to conclude on Friday.

About five million children – almost half of the population – aged between nine months and 14 years are set to benefit from the vaccine which protects against both measles and rubella viruses.

Experts have termed the exercise “a phenomenal achievement” which is in line with the country’s efforts to achieve the target of zero-preventable deaths.

The vaccination campaign is part of the Child and Adolescent Health Week.

Other activities to mark the week include vaccination against cervical cancer and Vitamin A provision.

While launching the campaign, the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Oda Gasinzigwa, said this is part of efforts to prevent preventable diseases which might otherwise threaten people’s lives. She called upon adolescents and parents to turn up massively for the exercise.

“Rubella is a dangerous disease,” she told the thousands of residents, including school children. “We request you to turn out for this vaccination campaign. This will ensure good health for our children.”

She noted that diseases have a negative impact on the national economy and the pace of its development, adding that eradicating it is a step forward towards building a strong and safe society.

Delivering results


The Measles-Rubella vaccination programme is  as a result of the partnership between the Ministry of Health and its partners that include GAVI Alliance, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund, among others. It is estimated that the campaign will cost over $3.2 million (about Rwf2bn.)

Measles easily spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing and can cause fever, cough, sore throat and rash. In some cases the disease causes breathing problems and swelling in the brain that may lead to death.

The new vaccine also protects against rubella infection, which causes fever, headache and rash in adults but generally, few symptoms in children. Rubella is usually spread through close contact with another person but a pregnant mother is at risk of delivering a baby with malformations and mental problems if infected with the rubella virus.

Throughout the Children and Adolescent Week, nurses will provide vaccines at normal community-based vaccination sites and in schools, officials from the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) said.

However, in the future, combined Measles-Rubella vaccine will be integrated into the routine immunisation programme for infants under one year. Experts have estimated that measles deaths in Rwanda declined from 670 in 2000 to three in 2010.

Dr Delanyo Dovlo, the World Health Organisation country representative, told The New Times that Rwanda has done very well in terms of using [available] resources, vaccines and techniques and that has produced results that are rare to find in other parts in Africa,” Dr Dovlo stated.

The government has in the past few years introduced pneumococcal vaccine to fight against pneumonia, a major contributor to child mortality. Other campaigns include the roll out of the rotavirus vaccine with the intention of reducing the rate of children who die as a result of diarrhoea as well as the vaccine against the cervical cancer vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical cancer.

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