Campaign fights infectious diseases in the wake of Gaza's long crisis
By Chris Niles
EAST JERUSALEM, 25 February 2009 – A fragile peace is holding in Gaza since hostilities ended last month. But damage to vital infrastructure is widespread, and primary health care services have been reduced by 90 per cent.
A joint two-week campaign by the Ministry of Health and UNICEF began on 19 February, aiming to vaccinate 120,000 students against measles, mumps and rubella. Funding for the MMR campaign was made possible by the Government of Japan.
Many of the 90,000 people displaced at the height of the crisis have been able to return home, but an unknown number of displaced families are still coping with limited services. Lack of regular health care continues to threaten young lives throughout Gaza, and poor sanitary conditions are contributing to an increase in diarrhoeal diseases.
UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Health with campaigns to promote the importance of salt iodization, flour fortification and good hygiene practices, in addition to the immunization campaign.
Creating a healthier environment
UNICEF Gaza Head of Office Charles Strickland spoke about the campaign in Sulayman Sultan primary school, located in Gaza City.
The campaign targets students in eighth and ninth grades. Besides receiving a dose of vitamin A, students are educated about how to avoid infectious disease.
Eighth grader Naser Alomrane was one of the children lining up for a jab. "I am sure this campaign will help to protect us from many diseases," he said.