Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr Somdy Duangdy, has called on health officials countrywide to continue their advocacy efforts to prevent an outbreak of measles-rubella.
All children and women should be vaccinated against measles-rubella, especially those living in remote areas, he said.
Mr Somdy made the statement on Friday when he addressed an orientation meeting in Vientiane on the national measles-rubella vaccination campaign.
He said that this year the ministry expected to vaccinate 95 percent of the target group. “Ideally, we want to vaccinate every child and woman in the target areas.”
All children and women in Laos will have access to the measles-rubella vaccine to secure the gains made against the disease through more widespread immunisation programmes. This will further boost their immunity, and support the government’s policy to provide effective health services, Mr Somday added.
The deputy prime minister highlighted the successful efforts of the Ministry of Health in cooperation with local administrations to prevent measles-rubella and boost immunity in children.
According to a recent communique, the Ministry of Health is taking measures to ensure the public is informed about the resurgence of measles in a bid to prevent an outbreak of the highly contagious virus and protect the most vulnerable members of the community.
The Department of Communicable Diseases Control of the Ministry of Health expects 2019 to be no different to previous years but warns that all provinces have had outbreaks of the disease in the past.
The report calls on provincial departments of Information, Culture and Tourism, Health, and Education and Sports to make additional efforts to inform the public about measles prevention and containment measures.
The report also urges district health officials and local authorities across the country to closely monitor their areas and properly disseminate information to the general public. This will include village chiefs, health officials, and village volunteers working to spread the message to the most remote areas.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is potentially fatal in the South East Asian region, especially to young children, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
In an outbreak of measles in the Philippines this year, media are now reporting that at least 12,736 cases have been found and that 203 deaths occurred.
Thai media have also reported that 1,000 cases of measles and 12 deaths are on record in the southern provinces alone.
According to the World Health Organisation, measles is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of an infected person. Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10–12 days after exposure, include high fever, a runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, usually starting on the face and upper neck before gradually spreading downwards.
Severe measles is more likely among poorly nourished children, especially those with insufficient vitamin A, and those whose immune systems have been weakened by HIV/AIDS or other diseases.
The most serious complications from measles include blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhoea and severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.
The measles vaccine has been in use since the 1960s. It is safe, effective and inexpensive. The World Health Organisation recommends immunisation for all susceptible children and adults for whom measles vaccination is not contraindicated.