1.7 million children to be vaccinated in Abidjan amidst violence
Joint press release WHO/UNICEF
Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 7 March 2011 – Over 1.7 million children are expected to be vaccinated against measles and other diseases in a large scale immunization campaign to be conducted from 7 to 11 March in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s largest city, rife with post-electoral violence driving an estimated 200,000 people to flee their home over the past week.
"In a crisis we need to move quickly to vaccinate all children otherwise we run the risk of a widespread epidemic, especially in urban areas," explained Dr Agostino Paganini, UNICEF Representative a.i. in Côte d’Ivoire.
"Despite the political impasse, the state must deliver basic health care for its population."
"Our vaccination teams, over 5,000 people, are mobilized to carry out this campaign to ensure that kids stay in good health" declared Dr Simplice Anongba, General Health Director at the Ministry of Health.
All children between six months and five years old will receive their dose against the deadly virus coupled with vitamin A and deworming tablets. For children in districts where cholera is rampant, they will also take home a bar of soap and three sachets of Oral Rehydration Salts to be taken if symptoms of diarrhoea appear.
In addition children under 1 year old will receive all other routine vaccines.
"One of the first activities to carry out during a crisis causing population displacements is to vaccinate all children against measles" explained Dr Mamadou Ball, WHO Representative in Cote d’Ivoire.
"Measles is a highly contagious disease and one of the leading causes of death of young children. The disputed November 2010 presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire have prompted widespread violence with far-reaching humanitarian consequences in the West African nation and women and children are paying a heavy toll. Epidemics such as measles, yellow fever, cholera and meningitis have broken out in several parts of the country as the public health system is struggling to cope with the political stalemate.
Moreover since end of February, general power cuts in the north are disrupting the supply of clean water in cities.
The risk of epidemics affecting the entire population is looming if no action is taken quickly to restore access clean water and adequate hygiene.
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