Measles epidemic hits Somalia

The famine in Somalia has brought with it a deadly measles epidemic that is taxing an already beleaguered healthcare system.

Every day, a crowd of parents brings measles infected children to Mogadishu’s Banadir Hospital. Dr. Shafie Gimal, one of four doctors who treat children, manages to examine at least 300 daily. Gimal said that the hospital is seeing six times the number of measles cases it normally would, according to ABC News.

"I am very happy...because he's here in the hospital," the sister of a measles infected boy said, ABC News reports.

Gimal announced that the boy would be fine, despite his burning forehead and horrendous cough.

In the United States, the MMR vaccine, used to prevent measles, has been given since the 1960’s. In Somalia, humanitarian workers risk their lives in order to offer free vaccinations at a series of clinics. Lines form there, too, as parents know that the vaccine could potentially save their children’s lives.

There is no formal system to vaccinate the children of Somalia because there has not been a real government in over 20 years.

"No one should be dying of measles in this day and age," Dawn Blalock, A U.N. humanitarian worker from California, said, ABC News reports.