Six million children immunized against measles in DPR Korea in UN-backed campaign

Six million children immunized against measles in DPR Korea in UN-backed campaign

An infant being vaccinated against measles
Six million children in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) aged six months to 15 years have been immunized in the first phase of a United Nations-backed emergency campaign targeting more than 16 million of the country’s 22 million people following a recent outbreak of the sometimes deadly disease.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) flew a consignment of vaccine to the DPRK within 14 days of the Government’s declaration of a nationwide measles outbreak in support of the massive campaign earlier this month.

The huge undertaking comes in response to a recent outbreak that affected more than 3,500 people, most of them children. Two infants and two adults died and more than 1,000 people were hospitalized, according to reports.

The second phase of the campaign, in which the UN World Health Organization (WHO) is also participating, is set to start on 10 April and will aim to reach an additional 10.2 million people between 16 and 45 years of age, UNICEF's Chief of Health and Nutrition in the DPRK Majeed Ezatullah said.

Measles, one of the most contagious diseases known, remains a leading cause of death among young children worldwide, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine for the past 40 years. An estimated 345,000 people, the majority of them children, died from the disease in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available.