More than 4.5 million children were vaccinated for measles and rubella in a nationwide campaign, the Ministry of Health announced on Friday, in a joint press conference with the World Health Organization and Unicef.
The campaign, conducted by the National Immunization Program, spanned from October 21 to December 26, 2013, and exceeded its goal of giving the combined vaccine to 4 million children between 9 months and 15 years of age.
“I’m pleased to announce today that the Ministry of Health has successfully completed the largest nationwide immunization campaign in the history of the Royal Government of Cambodia,” Minister of Health Dr. Mam Bunheng said in Phnom Penh.
Those in remote rural areas, the migrant population and the urban poor were among the high-risk communities prioritized and targeted by the campaign. To ensure that these groups were reached, reports on local radio stations broadcast information about the program, said Unicef’s Cambodia representative, Rana Flowers.
Ms. Flowers also said that the campaign sought to engage parents directly on the process of vaccination.
“We have observed no deaths at all in the past three years,” Professor Sann Chan Soeung from the Ministry of Health said at the ceremony on Friday, which was held to close the campaign.
The health risks from rubella, which results in congenital rubella symptoms, include cataracts, deafness and heart defects. As the disease can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, the combined measles-rubella vaccine is given to girls aged 15, as they reach reproductive maturity.