UN launches aggressive campaign against yellow fever

A boy reacts as he receives a yellow fever vaccine injection in the Kisenso district of Kinshasa, Congo, on July 21, 2016.(Photo Courtesy AP)

The UN has launched a plan to vaccinate at least 1 billion people against yellow fever in Africa by 2026. In a joint partnership with the WHO, UNICEF, the GAVI global vaccine alliance and other 50 health partners this initiative seeks to eliminate the mosquito-borne viral disease on the continent.

Speaking during the program’s launch in Nigeria,  Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization said the effort will make a difference.

“With one injection we can protect a person for life against this dangerous pathogen”, Ghebreyesus said.  “This unprecedented commitment by countries will ensure that by 2026 Africa is free of yellow fever epidemics.”

The World Health Organisation listed Nigeria as one of the priority target countries in this plan following reports that the yellow fever outbreak is active in Nigeria. Hundreds of suspected cases have been reported after a 7 year old girl developed fever, vomiting and abdominal pain in August

“Today, the threat of yellow fever looms larger than ever before, especially for thousands of children across Africa,” Stefan Peterson, chief of health at the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF), said in a statement.

One reason the disease is spreading is because more people are moving from rural to urban areas, particularly to slums, said Robin Nandy, UNICEF’s chief of immunization.

The proposed strategy will also include protecting at risk populations through preventive mass vaccination campaigns and routine immunization programmes, preventing international spread and containing outbreaks rapidly.