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Prince Charles arranges mass vaccination for Typhoon Haiyan victims

By Max Foster, CNN
updated 8:22 AM EDT, Wed March 26, 2014
A child receives a measles vaccine in Manila, Philippines on January 21, 2014 following an upsurge in the virus.
A child receives a measles vaccine in Manila, Philippines on January 21, 2014 following an upsurge in the virus.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Measles hit the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan
  • Prince Charles arranges for delivery of five million doses of measles, rubella vaccines
  • The hope is that the vaccines will potentially save 5,000 lives

London (CNN) -- Five million doses of measles and rubella vaccine will be delivered to the Philippines, following a donation organized by Britain's Prince Charles.

The virus has ravaged the country since Typhoon Haiyan -- known as Yolanda in the Philippines -- hit on November 8 last year, leaving more than 6,000 dead and nearly 1,800 unaccounted for. According to the Filipino Department of Health, 15,600 cases of measles were reported during the first 10 weeks of 2014, compared to just 5,863 cases during the whole of 2013.

The spread of the virus has been exacerbated by mass migration, with nearly four million people displaced by the devastating typhoon, according to the country's National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The immunization program will be mainly targeted at children aged from nine months to five year olds who are at most risk from the epidemic: the hope is that the plan will potentially save 5,000 lives.

5 things to know about measles

Prince Charles was in India at the time when Haiyan hit the Philippines. He visited the Serum Institute in Pune, the world's largest manufacturer of measles vaccines, two days after the typhoon made landfall. It agreed to donate five million doses to the Philippines, to be delivered via International Health Partners (IHP), one of the Prince's charities.

A Clarence House spokesperson said: "The Prince of Wales was very moved when he heard about the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, which developed during his visit to India in November 2013.

"After being informed of the offer of a donation by the Serum Institute of India to a cause of his choosing, The Prince was pleased to charge his charities, International Health Partners and the British Asian Trust, to ensure the donation would be part of the ongoing international response to Typhoon Yolanda.

"The Prince was delighted that the Serum Institute was able to make such a generous donation to this important and urgent cause, and he was very pleased that the institute and the two charities have been able to work so effectively with the Philippines Department of Health, the World Health Organization and UNICEF to bring about this agreement."

Anthony Dunnett, president of IHP said: "The pressing need to deliver a measles vaccination program in the Philippines demonstrates the ongoing impact of Typhoon Yolanda... We are extremely grateful to our patron, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, for enabling this important donation."

On Wednesday, IHP signed an agreement with the Philippine government to deliver the vaccines as part of a wider immunization program in September of this year.

READ: The most infectious of all infectious diseases

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