UN: UNICEF, partners begin mass measles' vaccinations in Somalia

New York, US (PANA) - Following a major measles outbreak in Somalia, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners have supported a swift delivery of 55,000 doses of measles vaccine to Kismayo along with Vitamin A supplementation to boost the immunity of some 54,000 children under the age of 10 that are expected to be vaccinated.

UNICEF Somalia’s Acting Representative in Somalia, Jeremy Hopkins in a statement on Monday, said: "Measles is one of the most deadly vaccine-preventable diseases but sadly it is far from being the only one in Somalia."

He said that the agency was grateful to the donors for partnering with UNICEF to tackle the outbreak.

He, however, noted that "more support is needed to secure a nationwide immunisation coverage and engagement with local communities, as well as fully vaccinate every child."

The UNICEF official reported that there have been over 704 cases of fever and rashes in Kismayo, the majority of them children.

Many of the children suspected to be suffering from measles sleep on the floor of Kismayo General Hospital, and most were not vaccinated against measles although there are 16 free vaccination posts in Kismayo.

"In addition, UNICEF has sent three freezers for the cold chain storage for vaccines. The initiative was supported by several donors, including the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), Finland, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)," Mr. Hopkins said.

According to UNICEF, Somalia, where measles continue to be the leading cause of death among young children in, has one of the lowest immunization rates in the world.

The disease can be prevented with two doses of a safe and effective vaccine, while lack of immunization can lead to pneumonia, diarrhoea, and encephalitis which causes brain swelling and blindness and attacks those with weak immunity, resulting from malnutrition, Vitamin A deficiency and unhygienic living conditions.

UNICEF disclosed that, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, is funding the cold chain and awareness creation activities, as well as the newly introduced vaccine against polio (IPV) and the Pentavalent vaccine which covers childhood TB, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib).
-0-  PANA  AA/AR  19Dec2016

19 december 2016 17:28:42

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