Typhoon Haiyan: WHO, Philippines Govt launch mass vaccination campaign

Manila, Philippines (PANA) - The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Philippines Department of Health have launched a vaccination campaign to prevent outbreaks of measles and polio among survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.

“Large numbers of non- or under-vaccinated children are at risk of contracting and spreading infectious diseases such as measles - particularly in congested areas where the homeless are now living,” a WHO statement Thursday quoted Dr Julie Hall, WHO Representative in the Philippines, as saying. “Measles can be deadly, especially in young children.”

The campaign targets children in areas hardest hit by the disaster - starting with the evacuation centres in the city of Tacloban and at receiving centres in Cebu, where evacuated families are finding temporary shelter.

Children under five years old are being vaccinated against polio and measles and given Vitamin A drops to boost their immune systems.

As young children are most at risk, the initial phase of the campaign targets children six months to five years old in regions most severely affected by the disaster. The campaign will be extended to children up to 15 years old if resources allow.

"Our system is shaken but not broken," Philippines Secretary of Health Enrique Ona was  quoted as saying. "With the support of partners, vaccinations have been re-launched at a vital time."

Mass immunisation and vitamin A supplementation are immediate health priorities following natural disasters in areas with inadequate coverage levels.

Contagious diseases like measles spread quickly when people are living in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions.
-0- PANA SEG 22Nov2013

22 november 2013 09:37:11




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