UN targets 4.2 mln Somali children in measles drive

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-26 23:00:49|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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MOGADISHU, July 26 (Xinhua) -- UN agencies said Wednesday they will launch a measles campaign in November, targeting 4.2 million children aged from six months to 10 years in Somalia.

The drive to be conducted by the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF aims to control the outbreak and reduce the number of death among children.

"Investing in the health of Somalia's children is critical, and is an investment in the future of Somalia. WHO, UNICEF and health partners are working closely to curb the spread of measles in the country," WHO Representative in Somalia Ghulam Popal said in a statement released in Mogadishu.

According to WHO, about 14,000 suspected cases of measles have been reported this year alone as of July 23 compared to between 5,000 to 10,000 total cases per year since 2014.

More than 80 percent of all those affected by the current outbreak are children below the age of 10 years. The drive will require 14 million U.S. dollars of which the UN health agency requires 7 million dollars.

"This strong partnership provides continuous support to national health authorities to increase vaccination coverage for vulnerable children across the country. But we can only succeed in reaching every child if we have enough funding," Popal said.

In early 2017, WHO, UNICEF and partners vaccinated 596,328 children aged six months to five years for measles across select hotspots.

According to the agencies, although the campaigns helped delay immediate transmission, measles cases are on the rise due to mass displacement and overcrowding in temporary settlements as a result of drought and conflict, combined with the overall low vaccination coverage prior to the current crises and low population immunity due to high prevalence of malnutrition.