News / Africa

Cameroon Launches Massive Swine Flu Vaccine Campaign

It includes response to skeptics, who say vaccine is part of plot by West to render people sterile

Multimedia

Audio

The five-day immunization campaign ends on Saturday [30 October]. It‘s free of charge but is not intended for all Cameroonians.

The government says it only has a limited amount of the vaccine from the WHO and is targeting population segments with the highest risks of contracting the H1N1 virus.

Dr. Robinson Mbu is director of family health at the Ministry of Health says the available 1.3 million doses of the vaccine are destined for children aged 5 to 15 years, people above 65, women in at least the fourth month of pregnancy, health workers and people with chronic ailments like diabetes, high blood pressure, sickle cell and HIV.

The nationwide vaccination effort follows a government announcement in October that 75 cases of H1N1 had been detected. The Ministry of Health says no deaths have been recorded. A swine flu pandemic killed tens of thousands across the world last year.

Cameroon Launches Massive Swine Flu Vaccine Campaign
Cameroon Launches Massive Swine Flu Vaccine Campaign

H1N1 is a contagious respiratory virus containing a combination of different influenza viruses endemic in pigs. Scientists say transmission from animals to humans is not common. They say it is not contracted by eating properly cooked pork, although people who often come in contact with swine may be more exposed to the virus.

It is spread among people when infected persons cough, sneeze or speak. People can also get infected by touching contaminated surfaces and objects. Within a day, they may be contagious, even before they begin to exhibit symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue. Health care practitioners say the resemblance to flu makes early detection a problem and can facilitate its rapid spread.

Last May, 35 African countries formally notified the WHO of a combined total of 18,500 confirmed cases of the flu and a death toll of 168. South Africa alone accounted for more than two-thirds of the cases.

As a preventive measure; Cameroon inoculated a thousand supporters of its soccer team travelling to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. But the effort was not enough to prevent infections.

The renewed effort to eradicate the disease is being carried out by hundreds of health workers at public hospitals across the country. Others are going house-to-house and school-to-school to ensure its success amid concerns that pockets of resistance may emerge.

Previous vaccination campaigns for other diseases have met with resistance, especially from some religious groups that suspect a veiled scheme by the West to render parts of the population sterile.

But Dr. Tsafack Rose Ernestine, a vaccination team leader in Cameroon’s largest city, Douala, says the claims are unfounded.

She says she is counting on journalists to deflect such myths. In principle, the campaign should end on October 30 but will be extended if resistance emerges. She says about 65 million people around the world have received the vaccine and are not complaining of sterility.

The vaccine being administered in Cameroon is branded Paneza and is made in Spain. Health care practitioners say it provides immunity for between 9 and 12 months. They say its only known side effect is mild dizziness. But they warn that persons allergic to eggs should avoid getting the shot because some batches are made from them. In those who are allergic, the vaccine can provoke Guillain-Barre, a rare syndrome that can cause nervous and muscle disorders.

Local traditional rulers are joining the effort to inform the public about the vaccine. A Douala canton chief, HM Essaka Ekwalla, is calling on his subjects to ignore the skeptics and rush to be vaccinated.

He says there is nothing to lose because the vaccine is free and causes no pain. He says elderly people like himself will benefit immensely from getting vaccinated because if they are infected with the virus, it will become hard to breathe, and they could die. The vaccine, says the traditional rulers, is insurance against premature death.

Meantime, the government has been applauding the WHO and its partners for making available the vaccine at no cost. Health Minister Andre Mama Fouda says poor countries like Cameroon could not afford to fund mass inoculations on their own.

 

 

 

 

 

You May Like

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid