U.N. Children's Fund begins Horn of Africa measles vaccination campaign

The United Nations Children's Fund has begun a massive vaccination campaign across the Horn of Africa to protect 2.5 million children against diseases like measles.
The drive includes a strategy to vaccinate every child in Somalia under the age of 15 against measles, News Medical reports. Measles cases have been confirmed in southern and central Somalia and cases of acute watery diarrhea were detected in the Mogadishu, Lower Shabella, Afgoye and Baidoa regions. With many women and children on the move, the challenge will be to reach all children to prevent new outbreaks of the disease.

“This is a child survival crisis,” Elhadj As Sy, the UNICEF regional director for Eastern and Southern Africa, said, according to News Medical. “Children don't die just because they don't have enough food. In various stages of malnutrition, they are more prone to sickness and disease. As big a challenge as the rates of malnutrition pose, the danger for children extends even further."
The vaccination campaign began last week in southern Somalia, where vaccination coverage is just 26 percent. Over 85,000 women and young children were vaccinated in eight districts of Mogadishu, including overcrowded internally displaced camps. A measles, de-worming, vitamin A and tetanus toxoid campaign is planned in six districts in the Gedo region to reach over 125,000 women and young children. Another campaign is planned for the communities around the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya.
“UNICEF is massively scaling up our operations to reach children in drought affected areas with emergency and preventative assistance," Dennis McKinnlay, the executive director at UNICEF New Zealand, said, according to News Medical. "The focus is on providing integrated interventions that address various aspects of a child's survival and development including providing health services and vaccinations. We have a huge challenge in the coming weeks and months but we have the expertise, experience and partnerships to reach every child who needs our help - all we need is funding. Contributions from generous Kiwis are already saving lives but with more donations we can do so much more.”