THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

UNICEF supports measles immunization program for Syrians

The United Nations Children's Fund recently partnered with the World Health Organization and others to deliver measles vaccines to Syrians in Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq affected by the war in Syria in response to a measles outbreak.

More than 1.4 million Syrians have fled the country to neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq since the war in Syria began; 4.25 million Syrians, including children, have also been displaced. The camps in which they reside are crowded and unsanitary, making their camps breeding grounds for diseases like measles.

"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," said UNICEF Regional Health Advisor Mahendra Sheth.

This past year there have been over 300 cases of measles in the Domiz refugee camp in Iraq, over 300 cases in Lebanon, over 100 cases in Syria and over 3,000 cases in Turkey.

The organizations have been implementing vaccination campaigns to immunize children to protect them against disease. In Syria, 550,000 children have already been vaccinated in a campaign that targets 2.5 million children. In Lebanon, 462,000 children have been vaccinated thus far.

Jordan will begin a new national immunization campaign soon and has already vaccinated 60,000 in the Za'atari camp. In Iraq's camp over 19,000 refugees have been vaccinated already and Turkey is also beginning a new initiative to protect children from disease.

"Immunization is one of the most cost-effective tools we have available," Sheth said.