DPR Korea: Measles Epidemic Appeal No. MAA54001 Operation Update No. 1
The Federation’s mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of
humanity. It is the world’s largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are
active in over 185 countries.
(This project is an integral part of the East Asia Appeal 2006-2007)
Operations Update no. 1 Period covered: 18 February to 20 March 2007; Appeal target: CHF 557,586 (USD
457,404 or EUR 346,112); Appeal coverage: 34.4% * ; Outstanding needs: CHF 365,252 *
(*Figures based on the contributions list. For contributions yet to be published, please see Table 1
Operational summary: A measles outbreak in November 2006 affected 3,600 people and caused the deaths
of four people in the DPRK. The DPRK Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) confirmed the measles outbreak
at a joint meeting attended by UNICEF, WHO, the DPRK and Federation representatives on 16 February.
Further meetings resulted in a two phase measles immunization joint plan of action with UNICEF as the
DPRK Red Cross volunteers have played an important role in community mobilization during the first
phase of the nationwide measles immunization campaign to vaccinate six million children between six
months to 15 years old. The DPRK Red Cross Society and the Federation are contributing 10.2 million
doses of Vitamin A (Retinol, 200,000 i.u) in the second phase. The Federation is also contributing
262,000 doses of ampicillin to health facilities in four provinces for the treatment of measles-
Acute respiratory infections are high during the harsh winter months in the DPRK. To protect
themselves from the severe cold, people tend to remain indoors or close together increasing the
spread of viral and other respiratory infections. Since November 2006, 3,597 people in 35 of the
country’s 205 counties (all ten provinces of DPRK) were diagnosed with measles which led to the
deaths of two children and two adults. A further 1,482 people have been hospitalized as a result of
Patients with the measles often suffer from skin rashes, high fever and flu-like symptoms. Local
health facilities throughout the country provided treatment to patients with these symptoms. The DPRK
Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) confirmed the measles outbreak at a joint meeting attended by
UNICEF, WHO, the DPRK and Federation representatives on 16 February.
A joint plan of action resulted in a two-phased nationwide measles vaccination campaign for March to
April. The first phase took place in March 14-16 and was carried out by the MoPH and UNICEF. Six
million children between six months -15 years old were immunized. The DPRK Red Cross volunteers were
part of the vaccination teams as tally sheet recorders. The MoPH invited a team form the national
society to monitor and coordinate the immunization campaign in one of the counties in South Pyongan
The second phase is scheduled for mid-April and the national society and the Federation is providing
vitamin A and ampicillin injections. These were flown into the country to ensure pre-positioning of
supplies well before the scheduled campaign.
Red Cross and Red Crescent action
The re-emergence of measles, a highly contagious but completely preventable infection, in the country
is linked to the high risk of disease outbreaks especially among children and other vulnerable groups
still recovering from prolonged malnutrition during the winter months. UNICEF is leading the
immunization response in coordination with the MoPH. On the joint action plan, developed by UNICEF,
MoPH, the national society and the Federation, all people between six months to 45 years of age will
be immunize and administered with vitamin A.
The DPRK Red Cross and the Federation have in place a system for the supply of drugs and medical
materials to 2,000 health institutions in more then 60 out of 160 (accessible) counties in DPRK as
part of the national society’s annual activities. This will complement the MoPH during this
nationwide campaign. The national society has also mobilized its volunteers to support MoPH in
community mobilization and as vaccination team members. All primary- and secondary-level health
facilities are being supplied with ampicillin injections to treat secondary bacterial infections and
other complications as a result of measles.