News

High Yellow Fever Risk Prompts Mass Vaccination in Sierra Leone

Part of immunization program in three West African countries including Liberia and Benin

A health worker administers a yellow fever vaccine to a baby on a roadside in Abidjan, Ivory Coast after a case was discovered of yellow fever (File)
A health worker administers a yellow fever vaccine to a baby on a roadside in Abidjan, Ivory Coast after a case was discovered of yellow fever (File)
Fid Thompson

Sierra Leone has launched a week-long campaign to immunize its entire population against yellow fever after cases were recorded last year in two districts.  The effort is part of a program to immunize people in three West African countries, including Liberia and Benin.

One year-old Abdulay Kuyatay is not impressed with the pinch of his yellow fever shot at a Red Cross vaccination post in downtown Freetown.

A health worker administers a yellow fever vaccine to a baby on a roadside in Abidjan, Ivory Coast after a case was discovered of yellow fever (File)
A health worker administers a yellow fever vaccine to a baby on a roadside in Abidjan, Ivory Coast after a case was discovered of yellow fever (File)

Kuyatay is one of more than four million Sierra Leoneans targeted for a free ten-year vaccine against the disease this week.

Amara Jambai is director of disease prevention and control at the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health.  He says the campaign is the first of its kind.

"Sierra Leone is one of the countries with the highest risk, Liberia and then Benin. So we are doing this campaign so as to minimize the risk of having a full-blown outbreak of yellow fever," Jambai said.

Jambai says after cases of yellow fever showed up in November 2008 in the forested Southern regions of Bo and Kenema, the government acted quickly to protect the entire population.

Yellow fever is a viral disease affecting the liver and kidneys, causing high fever and a yellowing of the skin and eyes.  It is transmitted by infected mosquitoes and is endemic to many West African countries.  More than 200,000 people die of yellow fever every year.  Although there is no cure, the vaccine is relatively cheap and highly effective.

Jambai says it was difficult to get hold of so many vaccines so quickly.

"The initial campaign was in five districts in May and this is the second part of that campaign now, because the population we are targeting were so many. Now, during this present campaign, we are targeting about 2.4-million people, including the Western Urban - and you can imagine what it is like in this capital, Freetown, bursting with a lot of activities," Jambai said.

Haja Kutulmi Karim is health coordinator at Sierra Leone's Red Cross Society, which is assisting the government with the campaign.  She says it is an enormous task to make sure everyone comes to get their vaccination.

"We were able to train 300 volunteers who are doing house-to-house visits to mobilize people and tell them about the vaccine and its importance," said Karim.

On the streets of Freetown, people carry square yellow cards proving their immunization.  Radio spots and posters encourage everyone, except pregnant women and children under nine months, to go to their nearest vaccination post.

Dr. Jambai hopes to achieve complete coverage.

"The vaccine gives protection for about ten years. So, if we are able to get a high proportion of the people vaccinated -- let us say 95 percent and above -- then it gives you some sort of immunity of the general population," Jambai said.

In an attempt to control the spread of the disease, travelers to Sierra Leone must show proof of yellow fever immunization at the border.  Jambai says it is difficult to eradicate yellow fever completely, but mass vaccination is a step in the right direction.

At the downtown Red Cross post, little Abdulay Kuyatay gets a bonus measles shot in his other arm.  His mother, Yabom Turay, rubs his shoulder.

Turay says she will do anything to help prevent her young son from getting sick.

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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs