The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has delivered 55,000 doses of measles vaccine to Somalia following a major outbreak in the African country. According to the UN News Centre, the vaccine has been sent with Vitamin A supplementation, which will boost the immunity of the 54,000 children under the age of 10 that will receive vaccination.
Over 704 cases of fever and rashes have been reported in Kismayo, a port city in the southern Lower Juba province of the country. UNICEF say the majority of these are children that are now sleeping on the floor of the Kismayo General Hospital. Most of these children were not vaccinated against measles, even though there are 16 free vaccination posts in the city.
The vaccines are being funded by the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and Japan. Earlier this month, UNICEF provided the Kismayo Hospital with three freezers for the cold chain storage for vaccines, funded by several donors including the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Somalia has one of the lowest immunization rates in the world. Vaccine-preventable diseases are prevalent in the country and, according to statistics from the World Health Organization, child mortality is 200 per 1000 live births.
Measles is estimated to be the leading cause of death in children under the age of five. It is a highly contagious respiratory infection that is caused by a virus that infects only humans. It is transmitted by respiratory droplets and direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected person. However, it can be prevented with just two doses of a vaccine. The problem is that routine child immunization coverage among one-year-old children for measles is just 24%.
“Measles is one of the most deadly vaccine-preventable diseases but sadly it is far from being the only one in Somalia,” said Jeremy Hopkins of UNICEF Somalia. He said that while the agency is very grateful to donors, more support is needed to secure nationwide immunisation coverage and vaccination for every child in need.
Every year, measles kills approximately 118,000 children around the world. That’s more than 300 children every day. This is a global issue and we all have our part to play.
Here at Research and Markets, we’ve partnered with UNICEF to vaccinate over 40,000 children in 2017. UNICEF reaches more children with lifesaving immunization that any other organization - around half the world’s children. Our support is focused on the immunization of children against polio and measles. Please visit our charity page for more information on this and other initiatives we’ve been working on.
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(Image Credit - DFID)