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By John Ravelo

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (May 10, 2002 – Saipan Tribune)---Public Health Secretary James U. Hofschneider said yesterday there is still no reported case of measles in the Commonwealth, as the number of children being immunized in public and private health facilities continues to increase.

At least 385 children have been immunized since the department issued a health alert, in efforts to prevent a similar disease outbreak that happened on nearby Guam.

Despite the growing number of those availing of MMR [measles, mumps and rubella] vaccine doses, Hofschneider said there is no shortage of such vaccines. Information on the amount of supply available, whether exact or approximate, was not immediately available.

Earlier this year, Hofschneider reported that the department has locally prevented a shortage on tetanus diphtheria vaccines that was happening in the U.S. mainland, by acquiring some 3,000 doses through the assistance of the World Health Organization office based in the Philippine capital of Manila.

The health secretary had also credited the Commonwealth Health Center’s Volunteers’ Association, which facilitated the transport of the vaccines into the CNMI from New Zealand.

Data on immunization released by the DPH yesterday showed that from April 27 to May 4 this year, vaccinations totaled 1,395. Based on this data, there was no vaccination of tetanus diphtheria doses.

In a related development, the secretary also disclosed that the San Roque/Matansa dispensary is being renovated, as part of efforts to improve health services to the community, that include immunization for children and prenatal care for women.

"In the area of public health, we are enhancing the capacity of the southern public health/wellness clinic in Afetnas/San Antonio to better serve our women and children," he stated in a recent speech at a Senate hearing.

"We are planning a preventive and primary care health center in the largely underserved eastern community of Kagman/Chacha, which has approximately 5,000 households," he added.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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