measles shotSix million children in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) aged six months to 15 years have been immunized in a massive 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 flew a consignment of vaccine to the DPRK within 14 days of the Government’s declaration of a nationwide measles outbreak in March.

The outbreak 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 is also a huge undertaking. It aims to reach the remaining 10.2 million people (who are 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. Consider supporting the effort by UNICEF.

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