Responding to an urgent and specific need in numerous provinces throughout Indonesia, the government of Indonesia completed an integrated health campaign on September 10, 2007, successfully protecting more than 31 million children against measles. Many children also received other life-saving health interventions—including polio vaccinations, vitamin A supplements, micronutrient sprinkles, de-worming medicine, and insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria—that were distributed as part of this multi-phase integrated campaign.
The Indonesian Ministry of Health began its campaign in an effort stop the spread of measles and strengthen the immunization system in areas affected by the 2004 tsunami. Following the tsunami, many children in Northern Sumatra were vulnerable to diseases due to the crowded and unclean living conditions, along with damage to the health infrastructure. Largely through the response of international agencies and efforts by local communities, many children were protected from further suffering.
“This completion of this campaign represents a remarkable success for the children of Indonesia,” said David Meltzer, Senior Vice President of International Services for the American Red Cross. “This demonstrates what can be achieved by mobilizing the power of communities and volunteers to reach millions of children in some of Indonesia’s most remote areas.”
In 2004, Indonesia was identified as one of five countries with more than one million children unvaccinated against measles. At that time, routine immunization coverage was approximately 70 percent and an estimated 30,000 children died from complications caused by measles each year. Being the world’s fourth most populous nation, the high coverage attained in Indonesia are an important step toward the global goal of reducing measles deaths by 90 percent by 2010 (compared with 2000 figures).
This campaign was led by the government of Indonesia, with financial and technical support from the Measles Initiative—a partnership led by the American Red Cross, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UN Foundation, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Largely through the commitment of national governments and support from the Measles Initiative, measles deaths were reduced by more than 60 percent globally between 1999 and 2005. This surpassed the global goal of reducing measles deaths by more than 50 percent by 2005 (compared to 1999).
“This campaign offered not only a chance to protect children against measles, but other deadly conditions such as malaria and micro-nutrient deficiencies. In fact, this campaign was the first time for many families to receive a package of health services.,” said Dr. Gianfranco Rotigliano, UNICEF Country Representative. “It also shows that all sectors of the Indonesian government, the Measles Initiative, and other partners could work together to achieve a common goal in preventing the death of children.”
In addition to measles vaccinations, over two million insecticide-treated nets were distributed in 27 high malaria endemic districts in eight provinces. Before the campaign, only 1.9 percent of children slept under the anti-malaria nets. Now, an estimated 80 percent of children are sleeping under the protective nets in these districts. More than 21 million children were vaccinated against polio. Since February 2006, no confirmed wild polio virus cases have been detected. By delivering multiple interventions at the same time, integrated campaigns are cost-effective and increase coverage rates to reach more children.
To support the measles vaccination campaign, training was provided to middle-level managers and health workers, cold chain equipment in needy health centres was improved and the monitoring system for management of adverse events following immunization was strengthened. External monitors present during the vaccination campaigns revealed that the safety and quality of immunization practices have improved over the multi-phased campaign. Considerable efforts are underway to strengthen measles surveillance with other vaccine-preventable diseases to monitor the impact of the multi-phased campaign.
The Measles Initiative is a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally. Launched in 2001, the Measles Initiative—led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the World Health Organization—provides technical and financial support to governments and communities on vaccination campaigns in all regions of the world. To date, the Initiative has supported the vaccination of more than 372 million children helping to reduce measles deaths by more than 60 percent globally (compared to 1999). To learn more or make a donation, visit www.measlesinitiative.org.
Other key players in the fight against measles include: the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), Global Payments, Inc., International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Japanese Agency for Development Cooperation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Becton, Dickinson and Company, the Izumi Foundation, the Vodafone Group Foundation, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ExxonMobil, and countries and governments affected by measles.
Jessica Malter, UNICEF, New York; Tel.: +1 212 326 7412; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Oko, American Red Cross, Washington DC; Tel.:+ 1 202 303 6820; Email: email@example.com
Steven Stewart, CDC, Atlanta; Tel.: +1 404-639-8327; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy DiElsi, UN Foundation, Washington DC; Tel.: +1 202 419 3230; Email: email@example.com
*Editor’s note: Still photos and B-roll are available from recent campaigns. Please visit the press room at www.measlesinitiative.org