THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

U.N. steps up vaccination campaigns for Syrian refugees

The United Nations Children's Fund and its partners are boosting measles vaccination campaigns in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan after hundreds of measles cases were reported in the region.

Since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011, more than 1.4 million people took refuge in neighboring countries. Approximately 4.25 million people are displaced within Syria. Approximately 332 measles cases were reported in the Domiz refugee camp since December, 300 cases were reported in Lebanon since January and 133 cases were recently reported in Syria.

"With large population movements and the breakdown of regular health services in Syria, additional precautions are required to ensure that children are protected against killer diseases like measles no matter where they are," Mahendra Sheth, UNICEF's regional health advisor, said. "Immunization is one of the most cost-effective tools we have available."

There were 3,000 to 4,000 reported measles cases in Turkey during the last year, 300 of which were among Syrian refugees.

UNICEF is working with the World Health Organization, the Ministries of Health and other partners in the region to increase vaccination campaigns to make sure all children are protected against the disease.

Close to half of the people displaced in Syria are children. Many of them live in unsanitary and cramped conditions that allow disease to spread easily.