Emergency measles vaccinations are to be given to more than half a million children who survived the Nepal earthquake.
The vaccination campaign which is supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), is to be launched as a protective measure against outbreaks of measles in the informal camps housing victims of the April 25 earthquake.
The Star Online reports: Unicef representative in Nepal Tomoo Hozumi said in a statement on Monday that the lack of shelter and sanitation following the earthquake are big risk factors for the spread of diseases, especially in densely populated areas.
“Measles is very contagious and can potentially be deadly.
“We fear it could spread very quickly in the often crowded conditions in the improvised camps where many children are living,” said Hozumi.
He said that according to data collected before the earthquake, one in 10 children in Nepal remained unvaccinated.
“We have been working for decades to eliminate measles in Nepal.
“Unless we act now, there is a real risk of it re-emerging as a major threat for children, a setback for all of our collective efforts,” he said.
He said that Unicef is working with its partners to mobilise vaccines and the cold chain facilities needed to store the vaccines at the right temperature to ensure its effective.
He said that for the first phase of the campaign, teams will be sent to vaccinate children under the age of five in informal shelters in Bhaktapur, Kathmandu and Lalitpur, which are three of the most crowded districts in Kathmandu Valley.
He added that the campaign would then cover the other 12 districts worst hit by the earthquake.