UN News – Millions of children across Somalia vaccinated against measles in UN-backed campaign

8 January 2018 – One million children aged six months to 10 years in Puntland and 4.2 million across Somalia were reached during a five-day measles campaign that wrapped up on Sunday, the United Nations has reported.

&#8220It is a priority for WHO [World Health Organization] to continue supporting the Ministry of Health and maintaining the close partnership with the local health authorities and partners to control disease outbreaks like measles and ensure high vaccination coverage for all Somali children,&#8221 said Dr. Ghulam Popal, WHO Representative to Somalia.

&#8220It is unfortunate that measles cases are still being reported while there is effective vaccine available,&#8221 he added.

The campaign was conducted in partnership with WHO, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Somalia’s Ministry of Health.

In 2017, amidst a drought emergency, a total of 23,002 suspected measles cases were reported &#8211 alarmingly high compared to previous years. Among those cases, 83 per cent were in children under age 10.

In response to the outbreak, two rounds of vaccination campaigns were conducted in March and April of 2017, reaching 516,934 children aged nine months to five years.

&#8220Together with our partners, UNICEF was able to achieve great results for children and families affected by drought in 2017,&#8221 says Jesper Moller, UNICEF’s acting Representative.

&#8220However, the crisis is far from over,&#8221 he continued. &#8220The threat of famine continues to loom large, and so does disease outbreaks such as measles.&#8221

During the campaign, a support dose of Vitamin A will be administered to eligible children alongside the measles vaccine. Social mobilizers and health workers supported by WHO and UNICEF are also encouraging adults who are not fully immunized, or not sure of their immunity status, to get vaccinated as well.

&#8220The only way to protect children from this deadly disease is through mass vaccination campaigns. And we will remain vigilant and sustain our emergency efforts in 2018,&#8221 Mr. Moller concluded.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons. Routine vaccination for children, combined with mass immunization campaigns in countries with low routine coverage, are key public health strategies to reduce global measles deaths, says WHO.

UN News Centre – Africa Click here to read the original article

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