MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

U.N. allocates funds to vaccinate Somali children against measles

The United Nations announced on Monday the allocation of $1.4 million to vaccinate more than half a million children in Somalia against measles.

The funding, which came from an emergency account, will be used to inoculate children under five years of age in Banadir, Lower Juba and Puntland, the U.N. said in a news release.

"The vaccination drive will help prevent the spread of the disease to other locations, particularly those inaccessible to vaccination teams," Philippe Lazzarini, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said.

More than 1,350 suspected cases of measles were reported in Somalia during March and April of this year, four times the amount over the same time last year. Approximately 1,000 cases were reported in May alone.

"This is extremely alarming," Ghulam Popal, the Somalia representative for the World Health Organization, said. "We know there has been extremely low immunization coverage among Somali children and we need to urgently ensure as many as possible are immunized."

The funds to combat measles in Somalia, which came from the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund, will be complemented by an additional $300,000 from the Somalia Common Humanitarian Fund.

One in five children in Somalia die before the age of five. Only 30 percent of Somalis have access to a nurse or doctor.