SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

UOSSM appeals for urgent mass immunization for Syrian children against measles

The Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations appealed to the U.N. Children's Fund and the World Health Organization on Thursday for a mass measles immunization program for Syrian children.

UOSSM, a coalition of humanitarian, non-governmental and independent organizations providing aid to Syrians, said an epidemic of measles is spreading through parts of northern Syria. At least 7,000 people are affected by the outbreak because of the ongoing civil war. The UOSSM asked the UNICEF and the WHO to urgently consider administering a mass immunization program to children inside Syria and the refugee camps.

"The number of children infected by measles in Aleppo and its suburb has reached an alarming point," Yahia Rahim, a pediatrician and a member of UOSSM, said. "On a daily basis, we're seeing more than 200 children with measles, and sometimes we're treating cases of measles' complication like encephalitis and pneumonia."

UOSSM said it is willing to coordinate with the WHO, MSF and UNICEF to make sure the vaccine is administered properly. The coalition sees the campaign as a critically important measure that would save the lives of thousands.

"We must act now to protect children affected by the damage inflicted on the vaccination programs in Syria," Rahim said. "While measles is highly contagious disease, it is preventable with the appropriate administration of the vaccine. It is imperative to have the medical international organizations like WHO, (Médecins Sans Frontières) and UNICEF involved in the immunization campaign in order to ensure the adherence to the standardized criteria of vaccine storage and handling."