A measles outbreak was reported by the health ministry in May 2011, with a total of 256 cases so far from two of the 13 districts of Timor-Leste, Dili and Ermera. Most of those reported measles cases were of children below 14 years of age. The number is particularly significant since the overall measles immunization rate is low at 68 per cent, and even lower for the older cohort of children.
The situation required a nationwide immunization campaign to prevent the spread of measles which have a significant impact on the morbidity and mortality of Timorese children.
AusAID funds are being be used to help immunize an estimated 495,000 children from 6 months to 14 years old across the country, about 43 per cent of the total population of Timor-Leste. Vitamin A will also be provided to help protect children from possible complications of measles such as diarrhea, pneumonia and eye infections. Funds will also cover the nationwide campaign to encourage parents to have their children immunized against measles.
UNICEF, WHO with other partners are assisting the Ministry of Health in its emergency response to the measles outbreak with treatment of complications like pneumonia and diarrhea along with Vitamin A supplementation for all children already affected by measles. It is important that all parents will have their 6 month to 14 years old children immunized to protect them from the life-threatening consequences of measles,UNICEF Representative Jun Kukita said.