UNICEF Supports Mass Vaccination Campaigns in Syria and Surrounding Countries amid Measles Outbreaks
NEW YORK (April 30, 2013) – UNICEF and partners have stepped up vaccination campaigns in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey amid a number of measles outbreaks in a region where millions of people affected by the Syrian crisis need humanitarian assistance.
“With large population movements and the breakdown of regular health services in Syria, additional precautions are required to ensure that children are protected against killer diseases like measles,” said Mahendra Sheth, UNICEF Regional Health Advisor. “Immunization is one of the most cost-effective tools we have available.”
Since the beginning of the crisis more than two years ago, more than 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. As many as 8,000 Syrians are fleeing the country daily.
In addition, some 4.25 million people have been displaced within Syria, nearly half of them children. Many live in cramped and unsanitary conditions where disease can spread easily. The on-going conflict has seriously damaged the health system, including the national routine immunization program.
Since December 2012, about 332 measles cases have been reported in the Domiz refugee camp in northern Iraq. In Lebanon, some 300 measles cases have been reported by the Ministry of Health since January, while there are 133 confirmed cases of the disease in Syria. In Jordan, at least five cases have been identified among Syrian refugees in the densely populated Za’atari refugee camp. Meanwhile, in Turkey, there have been some 3,000 to 4,000 reported measles cases in the past year, including 300 among Syrian refugees.
UNICEF, working with the Ministries of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners, has scaled up vaccination campaigns to help ensure that all children are protected against disease. In Syria, some 550,000 children were vaccinated recently as part of a national campaign supported by UNICEF and the WHO that is targeting 2.5 million children. In Lebanon, 462,000 Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian children have been vaccinated this year. In Jordan, a mass vaccination campaign at Za’atari camp has immunized 60,000 refugees against measles, and a national vaccination campaign will begin shortly.
Meanwhile, in Iraq’s Domiz camp, some 19,300 refugees were vaccinated with the support of UNICEF. In Turkey, the Ministry of Health has stepped up immunizations in eight provinces where most of the approximately 292,000 Syrian refugees are concentrated.
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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when ZERO children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
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