Myanmar, Republic of the Union of

Vaccination campaign continues in cyclone-affected Myanmar

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/HQ08-0372
Supplies are getting through to cyclone survivors, but not nearly enough to meet the enormous need.

LAPUTTA TOWNSHIP, Myanmar, 21 May 2008 – The rush to provide relief to the victims of Cyclone Nargis continues. The United Nations now estimates that as many as 2.5 million people have been severely affected by the cyclone and its aftermath.  Forty per cent of those affected are children.

In Laputta Township, many children under five are suffering from diarrhoea or dysentery, and UNICEF has began a measles vaccination campaign throughout the region.

On Monday, UN Under-Secretary General James Holmes met with leaders of Myanmar’s military government to discuss ways to improve relief efforts. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will also visit the region this week.

Food and medicine are getting through to cyclone survivors, but not nearly enough to meet the enormous need. The UN estimates that 70 per cent of those affected by the storm have not received food aid.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Myanmar/2008
In response to the fear of an outbreak in Laputta Township, UNICEF has vaccinated about 1,000 children between the ages of nine months and five years against measles.

Many people are sleeping outdoors with no bedding and no protection from the weather. Latrines have been shipped in, but more are needed. Water sources have been contaminated by flooding.

Children in need

The official death toll from the disaster has been estimated at approximately 77,740 with nearly 56,000 missing. About 2.5 million people are estimated to have been affected by the cyclone.

UNICEF estimates that 1 million children may be in need of immediate assistance. Fear of an outbreak of deadly disease grows by the day.

The camps where survivors have gathered are disorganized and lack good sanitation. This, coupled with the shortage of food, raises grave concerns about children’s health; diseases like measles can become major killers in such situations.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/ HQ08-0379
A boy peers from the door of an aid distribution centre near the town of Dedaye in Irrawaddy Division, Myanmar.

Already, about 30 per cent of the children in the township are suffering from diarrhoea or dysentery.

Fear of a measles outbreak

“My greatest single fear is a very large measles outbreak, especially in some of these camps,” said UNICEF Chief of Health Dr. Peter Salama.

In Laputta Township, UNICEF has vaccinated about 1,000 children between the ages of nine months and five years against measles. Health workers are giving the children’s mothers tetanus shots.

The workers comprise just one of 70 assessment and relief missions that are travelling throughout the storm-ravaged Irrawaddy Delta, distributing essential supplies and working to stem an outbreak of preventable disease.


 

 

Video

20 May 2008:
UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on a campaign to protect children against measles in Laputta Township, one of the places hardest-hit by Cyclone Nargis.  VIDEO  high | low

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