WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health
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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 85-93

Responding to measles outbreak: closing the immunity gap in children of Timor-Leste

1 Government of Timor-Leste, Dili, Timor-Leste
2 UNICEF Country Office, Dili, Timor-Leste
3 WHO Country Office, Dili, Timor-Leste
4 Ministry of Health, Dili, Timor-Leste

Correspondence Address:
Sherin Varkey
UNICEF Country Office, Dili, Timor-Leste
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DOI: 10.4103/2224-3151.206919

PMID: 28612782

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Background: An outbreak of measles was reported in Timor-Leste during 2011. A concerted response at national level utilized this opportunity to improve measles immunization coverage rates. Methods: Health Management Information System and Surveillance System data were utilized to describe the outbreak. Attack rates and case fatality rates (CFR) were calculated using standard methods. Evaluation surveys were used to access immunization coverage. Proceedings of weekly meetings of the National Committee for Control of Disease Outbreaks were reviewed. Results: A total of 739 cases and 8 deaths were reported to the Surveillance Unit. Most (>82%) of the measles cases were reported from Dili and Ermera districts. The attack rate was 1.3 per 1000 population and CFR was 1.1%. The response was coordinated by the National Committee for Control of Disease Outbreaks, which included case management, active and passive surveillance, communication and measles immunization among six-month to 14-year old children. Immunization activity targeted 495 000 children, i.e. almost one-half of the Timor-Leste population and achieved high coverage (85%). Conclusions: The outbreak highlighted gaps in the immunity against measles. The National Committee for Control of Disease Outbreaks ensured a coordinated response which led to prevention of deaths from measles due to early case management with vitamin A supplementation, and high measles immunization coverage.

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