News / Health

Mass Measles Vaccination Campaign For Syrian Children Underway

Student receives a measles vaccine injection in Switzerland on March 23, 2009.
Student receives a measles vaccine injection in Switzerland on March 23, 2009.

Location

M20, Syria
Lisa Schlein
U.N. and international aid agencies are stepping up a vaccination campaign in Syria and neighboring countries to contain measles outbreaks in the region.  The U.N. Children's Fund says many Syrian children are at risk of killer diseases because they are not receiving routine immunizations.  
 
The U.N. Children’s Fund reports hundreds of cases of measles have broken out among children in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey over the past year.  In the case of Turkey, UNICEF says some 3,000 to 4,000 measles cases have been reported across the country, including 300 among Syrian refugees.
 
UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado said so far, no child has died from measles, but that could change at any time.   
 
“The assessment is that these outbreaks have been contained thus far in Syria and across the region.  In large part, also because of an immunization campaign last year that reached 1.3 million children with measles vaccination and 1.5 million children with polio vaccination," said Mercado. "But the concern is very real.  These are conditions that are conducive to the spread of disease and things are not getting any better for the Syrians either inside of the country or outside.”   
 
The United Nations reports some four-and-one-quarter million people are displaced inside Syria and more than 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled into neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt.  It says some 8,000 Syrians are fleeing the conflict in their country daily.
 
Mercado says nearly half of the displaced are children.  She says large population movements and the breakdown of regular health services are making children susceptible to killer diseases like measles no matter where they are.

She says living conditions for displaced children in Syria are dreadful.
 
“The vast majority of whom are now living in camped, overcrowded, unsanitary conditions where diseases can rapidly spread," said Mercado. "The routine immunization system has been hit hard.  The comprehensive numbers on routine immunization coverage are unavailable because reporting has broken down.  The last routine vaccination reporting available is from January and February this year from just six out of 14 governorates in Syria.  The figures there show coverage to be around 60 percent compared with coverage of around 95 percent across the country prior to the crisis.”   
 
Mercado says it is extremely difficult to run a mass measles campaign in a region already struggling to provide humanitarian assistance to millions of people affected by the Syrian crisis.  She says UNICEF is working with the health ministries, the World Health Organization and other partners to protect children against disease.
 
In Syria, she says health ministry teams, with the support of UNICEF and WHO, recently vaccinated some 550,000 children as part of a national campaign targeting 2.5 million children.  She says access to some areas is not possible because of insecurity.  For example, she notes that in Homs earlier this month, a mobile health team was shot at seven times, injuring three doctors.
 
Despite such setbacks, she says health workers are continuing their campaign to vaccinate hundreds of thousands of Syrian children against measles throughout the region.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
April 30, 2013 6:18 PM
"Vaccination..."??? - Muslim AIDS

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid