Materia Medica Malaysiana

March 19, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:54 am

MOH steps up campaign against measles

About 4.5 million schoolchildren aged between seven and 15 will receive free measles vaccinations in a nationwide campaign due to start in April.

Health Minister Dato’ Chua Jui Meng told reporters that the campaign would cover children below 15 as many would not yet have received a booster vaccination. The current immunization practice for measles, where jabs are given at age one and seven, was only introduced in 2002; previously, booster doses were not given.

The national immunization program successfully reduced the number of cases from almost just over 9,000 in 1982 to about 500 in 1990. In the 1990s, the average number of cases was 300 to 615 per year. However, about a decade later, the rate increased to 6,200 with seven deaths.

These outbreaks began in children who were not immunized or did not obtain adequate protection from the vaccination.

According to Chua, measles remains the biggest killer of children of all the vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Every year for the last 5 years, we have seen a total of 30 million measles cases and 875,000 deaths from measles globally. [It is still] a major threat to mankind even though immunization programs have been launched by the WHO,” said Chua.

The local campaign will run from April to June followed by a “mopping up” campaign from July to September to vaccinate children missed in the initial phase. Trained healthcare staff from the public health department and health clinics will visit schools to ensure all the children are immunized. Parents will also be able to bring children who have missed the campaign or who are not schooling to the nearest health clinic for the free vaccination.

“Children will be immunized irrespective of whether they had been immunized in the past or had measles in the past,” Chua said.

He urged parents to fully cooperate with the Health Ministry, reminding them that measles can be fatal due to accompanying complications, such as pneumonia and severe diarrhea.

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