Thursday, 23 November, 2017

Unicef to immunise 30000 Somali children against measles

Ron Matthews | 26 April, 2017, 03:21

Nearly 30,000 young Somali children, many of them displaced by a searing drought, are being vaccinated against measles this week in a United Nations-backed emergency campaign in one of the country's hardest-hit towns.

Steven Lauwerier, UNICEF's Representative in Somalia, said the children, many of them displaced by a searing drought, have never been immunised before. Health workers often can not reach those places because of a decades-old conflict that has ravaged the impoverished country in the Horn of Africa.

So far, all of those infected with measles in this outbreak are 5 years old or younger.

Children suffering from severe acute malnutrition are nine times more likely to die from diseases like measles than healthy ones, Lauwerier said.

The threat of starvation once again looms large over Somalia.

More than 6 million Somalis - half of the population - need emergency aid, including close to 1 million acutely malnourished children.

Health officials are now urging Somali Minnesotan children statewide who have already received their first dose of the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine to get their second dose as soon as possible.

The number of deaths from measles has fallen by 79 percent worldwide since 2000, thanks mainly to mass vaccination campaigns, but almost 400 children still die from the disease every day, the World Health Organization says. "We have no time to lose", he added.

The Baidoa campaign is being conducted in partnership with Somalia's Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO), and several non-governmental organizations.

The Baidoa campaign is part of effort to vaccinate 110,000 displaced children below five years in hotspots across south-central Somalia, plus 250,000 children in Somaliland, against the contagious disease, by end of May.

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