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MEASLES OUTBREAK IN PNG's VANIMO, WEST SEPIK PROVINCE

The National Department of Health has confirmed that there is an outbreak of Measles in Vanimo, West Sepik Province since the 23rd of August 2017. Three villages in Vanimo-Green District are affected and the provincial team has already responded by sending a vaccination team to schools and villages to vaccinate children enrolled from grades 1-8 and under five-year-olds within the catchment area.
The province has 18,000 doses of Measles vaccine available to vaccinate the targeted population while the national medical supplies stores has sufficient stock to dispatch more vaccines when required.
Measles is a very contagious disease and it’s too early to determine the magnitude of the outbreak and whether the disease has already spread to other parts of the province or country. Therefore, the country must be on alert and report immediately to health centres or hospitals if a person presents with fever or rash with runny nose or red eyes and seek medical help.

The National Department of Health has activated its Emergency and Response Plan and is providing technical support to assist with the outbreak response. A team from National Department of Health and World Health Organisation have been dispatched to the affected province to assist the province to carry out an assessment of the situation on the ground and provide onsite technical support.
Measles vaccine is given at 6 months and 9 months of age to be fully protected against measles and 92 % immunisation coverage is required for maximum protection in a community. For PNG, the immunisation coverage varies from province to province and therefore every parent is urged to get their children for vaccination against measles and for health facilities in the country to be alert in detecting measles cases.,
I commend the health workers in Vanimo for detecting the measles suspects and for managing accordingly including laboratory confirmation. Let me also thank the West Sepik Provincial health Authorities for responding to the outbreak.

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