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150,000 Rohingya children in Bangladesh to be vaccinated amid threat of disease outbreak

Measles, rubella and polio vaccination campaign kicks off in refugee settlements

© UNICEF/UN0119953/Brown
On 6 September 2017, a mother and child who are newly arrived Rohingya refugees from Myanmar walk through paddy fields and flooded land after they fled over the border into Cox's Bazar district, Chittagong Division in Bangladesh.

VIDEO LINK FOR MEDIA: https://vimeo.com/234115968

COX’S BAZAR, 17 September 2017 – A vaccination campaign against measles, rubella and polio is underway to immunize 150,000 Rohingya children below the age of 15 in 68 refugee settlements close to the border with Myanmar.

The seven-day campaign is led by the Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO). UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Health by providing the vaccines, syringes and vitamin A capsules.  WHO planned the immunization campaign and is managing and monitoring its field implementation to ensure every child is being reached.

More than 410,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived to Bangladesh since August 25, and thousands more are arriving every day. Children account for 60 per cent of all refugees, according to preliminary estimates. 

“We are happy that we were able to initiate the immunization campaign so quickly to protect the population from a possible measles outbreak” said Navaratnasamy Paranietharan, WHO Representative to Bangladesh. “We are all working together under the leadership of the Ministry of Health. This is what allowed us to implement this campaign so rapidly.”

“Measles is a very infectious and dangerous disease during emergencies, especially for children who are already weak and malnourished,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF’s Representative in Bangladesh. “With thousands of children crossing the border every day, vaccination is crucial to prevent the spread of potentially deadly diseases.”

With the growing number of Rohingya refugees UNICEF and WHO are scaling up their health and nutrition services as follow:

- Assisting the Ministry of Health to strengthen routine immunization programme.

- Support the Ministry to expand the number of doctors, nurses, lab technicians to reinforce maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health services.

- Renovating the delivery and special new-born care units, antenatal and postnatal care corners, and adolescent corners.

- Improving water, sanitation and hygiene in health facilities.

- Strengthen health coordination for a better response at the field level.

- Strengthen early warning system and surveillance for outbreak prone diseases.

- Strengthening health data through supporting Health Management Information System.

UNICEF will also be sending additional health and nutrition supplies from Dhaka and from its supply hub in Copenhagen. WHO is awaiting supplies from international procurement.

UNICEF will need at least $US 7.3 million for the next three months, but additional funds will be necessary as the refugee population continues to grow.

Note to the editor
For more information please contact
Jean-Jacques SIMON, Chief Communication UNICEF Bangladesh,  Tel: (+88) 01713043478 jsimon@unicef.org

Christophe BOULIERAC UNICEF Spokesperson in Geneva, currently in Bangladesh Tel: (+41) 799639244 cboulierac@unicef.org

About UNICEF
 UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org.bd.
For the latest available data on children visit data.unicef.org.
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