Routine immunization needed in Ebola-affected countries

A vaccine is administered. | Courtesy of the WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday appealed for the enhancement of immunization distribution in countries that have been affected by the Ebola virus in order to prevent diseases that have vaccines, such as measles and malaria.

Due to the Ebola outbreak, immunization activity has dwindled in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. WHO says people who have contracted malaria have not been able to get treatment due to health centers closing or fear of going to a health center that is open. WHO warns that disruptions in immunizations could have serious consequences.

“The new guidance for immunization programs in the African region in the context of Ebola to help countries maintain or restart immunization services includes infection-control precautions for health workers,” a WHO representative said. “The document notes that for countries not affected by Ebola, routine immunization and surveillance should continue using the normal safe injection and waste disposal practices.”

WHO suggests that areas free of Ebola virus transmission vaccinate as many citizens as possible to reduce the chances of a measles outbreak.

This focus on vaccinations and malaria is part of WHO’s efforts to support countries in early recovery, including infection prevention and control in non-Ebola health care settings, strengthening of the health workforce, disease surveillance and safe essential health services, WHO's Director of Service Delivery and Safety Edward Kelley said.

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