SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Syrian conflict triggers outbreak of measles

Measles vaccination campaigns are underway in countries hosting Syrian refugees, including Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan, to bring a measles outbreak under control, according to the U.N. Children's Fund.

UNICEF said on Tuesday that the outbreaks resulted from the breakdown of regular health services in Syria and the large movement of population. More than 1.4 million refugees from Syria fled into neighboring countries. Additionally, more than 4.5 million people inside Syria were displaced, with many living in unsanitary and cramped conditions that are likely to spread disease.

"The concern is very real," Marixie Mercado, a UNICEF representative, said. "These are conditions that are conducive to the spread of disease and things are not getting any better for the Syrians either in the country or outside. No children have died so far from measles. The assessment is that these outbreaks have been contained thus far in Syria and across the region, in large part because of an immunization campaign last year that reached 1.3 million with measles vaccinations and 1.5 million children with polio vaccinations."

UNICEF said more precautions are needed to make sure that children are protected against measles, a disease that can turn deadly if untreated. The organization said that Syria's national routine immunization program has been significantly damaged by the ongoing conflict.