Lebanon has been witnessing and since 2018 national outbreaks of measles spreading to all eight governorates and counting more than 2,000 reported cases, most prominently among children less than 10 years of age threatening their health.
As a result, the Ministry of Public Health proceeded in taking the necessary measures to put an end to this ongoing outbreak, by announcing the beginning of a National Measles Immunization Campaign in partnership with WHO and UNICEF.
The first phase of the campaign starts on December 7 and will continue until 22 December in the governorates of Akkar and Baalbek – Hermel, with the second phase beginning in early 2020 to cover other regions in Lebanon.
Public Health Minister Jamil Jabak explained that the campaign comes in line with the objectives of the national immunization program and the recommendations of the World Health Organization in terms of combating measles until reaching its elimination by 2025, and to reduce the spread of the disease.
“Measles is dangerous and highly contagious, and it is caused by a virus that circulates in the air and mostly affects children, which is a major cause of disease and death,” Dr. Jabak stated.
Dr. Jabak explained that it can be prevented through immunization, a safe and effective measles vaccine and that the Ministry of Public Health aims is to immunize all children in Lebanon in cooperation with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Ministry of Education, and the private sectors.
He also pointed out that “the campaign targets 915,750 children aged 6 months to less than 10 years, and all children will receive the oral polio vaccine.”
He added that “Children will be reached in primary health care centers, active dispensaries, schools, nurseries, and private clinics,” indicating that the first stage begins on December 7 in the governorates of North Lebanon and Baalbek Hermel.
Dr. Iman Shankiti, WHO’s representative who was present at the launching event, stated that “Lebanon has been observing a national measles outbreak since early 2018, affecting Lebanese and Syrian refugees alike.”
She added that “Following recommendations of an expert technical assessment of the measles situation, WHO is committed to supporting the Ministry of Public Health in the national measles campaign, through ensuring sufficient resources and technical support so that all children receive quality vaccination.” She assured that no one will be left behind, and all children will be “protected from this potentially serious disease.”
The National Measles Immunization Campaign is funded through the generous support of the Kuwait Fund for Development and the Lebanon Humanitarian Fund.
It is directed to 915,750 children through primary health care centers, dispensaries, schools, nurseries, and private clinics, so that all children between the ages of 6 and 11 months will receive additional vaccinations against measles and polio.
Also, all children from 12 months to 10 years will receive additional vaccines against measles, mumps, and rubella, regardless of their nationality or if they previously received measles vaccinations.