UNICEF and WHO support a national immunization campaign in Syria, amid the COVID-19 pandemic
More than 210,000 Children under the age of five across Syria catch up on their vaccines.
DAMASCUS, 25 June 2020 – With an aim to maintain vital routine immunization services, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Immunization Campaign, supported by WHO and UNICEF, has been concluded across Syria. The five-day-long campaign, implemented by the Syrian Ministry of Health, reached more than 900,000 children to check their vaccination status and vaccinating more than 210,100 children to ensure they are caught up with their routine immunization schedule.
For this purpose, over 1,000 health centres, 545 mobile teams, 666 temporary vaccination posts and more than 8,000 health workers were mobilized. In preparation for this campaign and in-line with WHO global guidelines, health workers were trained on preventative and precautionary measures; including disinfection, hygiene protocols and overcrowding prevention. In addition, they were provided with personal protection equipment for their safety and that of children and caregivers during the immunization campaign.
“No child should miss out on their vaccinations, now more than ever,” says Fran Equiza, UNICEF Representative in Syria, “These are difficult times, parents may feel overwhelmed with worries. Our message to them is clear; make sure your kids receive their routine immunizations to avoid vaccine-preventable diseases. When vaccination coverage goes down, more outbreaks will occur, including life-threatening diseases like measles and polio.”
According to WHO, there has been a slight reduction, of about 5 per cent in vaccination coverage in the first half of 2020. This was mainly due to challenges inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including access to health centres due to movement restrictions as well as fear of contracting the virus. However, WHO continuously asserts its commitment to provide its ultimate support to save the lives of children and protect them against health downfalls, one of which is vaccine-preventable diseases.
“I would like to thank health professionals for supporting such a significant programme at such critical time. I would like to recognize the enormous competency health vaccinators have exhibited during this mission; and their commitment to protect children in Syria against vaccine preventable diseases and provide them with immunization to enjoy a disease-free childhood. These days, more than ever, health of all depends on the courage and dedication of frontline heroes. Our deepest gratitude to public health workforce,” said Dr Akjemal Magtymova, Head of Mission and WHO Representative in Syria.
WHO and UNICEF noted in a joint health brief published this month that health care disruptions due to COVID-19 could potentially have a devastating impact on child mortality in the Middle East and North Africa. The full and safe resumption of immunization campaigns as well as nutrition services, while following strict precautionary measures for infection prevention, are key to help tens of thousands of children reach their fifth year of age in good health.
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.
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