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WHO acts on measles and rubella vaccine

Director General Health Services Dr Nyane LetsieA team of World Health Organisation (WHO) experts are in the country to investigate the effects of the measles and Rubella (MR) vaccine among children in Lesotho, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has announced today. 

At a press conference in Maseru today, Director General Health Services Dr ‘Nyane Letsie said the team will go to hospitals and families that have been affected for follow-ups and to conduct research on what really happened and to ascertain the effects of the MR vaccine especially on children, most of whom were reported to have got sick after vaccination last month.

Dr Nyane said the whole saga has not gone down well with them as people were not trusting the Ministry of Health’s efforts of eradicating such diseases in the country.  She said the ministry now wants to go deeper and work with the community so that they can earn their trust in undertaking such vaccination campaigns and their health and safety is their priority.

WHO Vaccine Safety Expert for Southern Africa Dr Sujjet Jain, who is part of the team, said even though they have been assured that the vaccine used was in good state, they are here to ensure that all safety measures were taken on the MR vaccine before it could be administered on children. 

Dr Jain said they was to ascertain whether complaints made by parents of the affected children and the community about the vaccine are true or not, or that there was “another disaster which needs immediate medical attention”.

The WHO official promised to handle all findings with care and to give out information concerning their research as soon as possible, saying the reaction could really be the effects of the vaccine or due to the climatic conditions in Lesotho.

Measles and Rubella Elimination Coordinator at the WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr Balcha Masresha, told the press conference that although it is their responsibility to work with WHO member states on MR elimination, they were also here to learn about what really happened with the vaccination campaign in Lesotho.

The WHO experts promised to make their findings public by Monday next week. 

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