Sixteen countries in West and Central Africa are short of around US$16 million to reach the $39 million needed to run measles prevention campaigns in all of them this year, say the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
The campaigns are run every three years in countries that include Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Senegal and Togo, "but if further funds are not found, some countries will be missed out," warned a UNICEF health specialist, Marie Therese Guigui.
Measles Initiative partners, including the American Red Cross, the UN Foundation, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and WHO, help raise money for measles prevention campaigns, but Guigui pointed out that governments in targeted countries were also expected to foot part of the bill.
As of 28 March 2010 measles had infected 22,364 children in West and Central Africa and killed 85. WHO noted that to have sustained success, 95 percent of children younger than one year should be covered in each campaign.
Globally, 83 percent of children in this age group are vaccinated, but in West Africa the figure is just 66 percent. This was partly because governments provided vaccinations at health centres, which often meant that children in hard-to-reach villages were left out, Guigui told IRIN.
"Health teams need to go out monthly to target these children, but health ministries do not always have the means to do this," she said. The fight against measles was improving, "but if we relax our efforts at all, then in three years we could return to the levels of five, ten years ago."
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions