Over 120 million people at risk of yellow fever in W Africa

Last Updated: Thursday, June 17, 2010 - 19:09

United Nations: Over 120 million people
are at risk of yellow fever in Nigeria and Ghana, the UN and
its partners have warned and appealed for mass vaccination
campaigns in the region to save them from the deadly disease.

According to United Nations Children`s Fund (UNICEF)
and the International Coordinating Group (ICG), over the past
three years, campaigns across West Africa have enabled 61
million people to be immunised, protecting them from the risk
of devastating yellow fever outbreaks.
While global yellow fever vaccine production capacity
has tripled in the past decade from 30 million to 90 million
doses per year, lack of funding is likely to result in
reallocation of available supply and reduced production.

The continuing financial shortfall is threatening the
global supply of yellow fever vaccine and could result in the
exclusion of the two countries from upcoming campaigns.

Funds are needed to maintain the global emergency
vaccine stockpile for outbreak response and to reach an
additional 120 million people at risk.

Vaccine manufacturers have indicated willingness to
scale-up production, provided there is commitment to purchase.

"We commend the effort of countries and this
international commitment because there is a clear, rational,
public health and business argument for ensuring funds are
available to sustain immunisation activities and complete the
task before us," said Edward Hoekstra, Senior Health
Specialist at UNICEF.
"We call upon international donors and our country
partners to continue efforts to support yellow fever control
activities and protect people`s lives," he added.

Nearly 50 million people have been immunised in West
Africa, with 14 million people protected through a global
emergency response since 2007.

The ICG said that an immunisation campaign is under
way in Guinea, targeting a population of 6.2 million people.
It also aims to reach 15 million people in Cote d`Ivoire later
this year.

However, funding has not been secured for mass
campaigns for 2011.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, June 17, 2010 - 19:09

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