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[Sudan]Immunization Begins for Children..040607

2004.06.16
Immunization Begins for Millions of Darfur Children Children hardest hit by massive humanitarian crisis GENEVA / NEW YORk, 7 June 2004 ?WHO and UNICEF said today that an ambitious plan to vaccinate millions of children against measles in Sudan뭩 troubled Darfur region began over the weekend. The aid agencies say that they hope to reach 2.26 million throughout June, working in a region plagued by violence, population displacement, and the approach of seasonal rains that close large parts of western Sudan each year to vehicles. 밯e have the potential to save up to 50,000 lives by preventing a measles outbreak here,?said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director for UNICEF. 밃lmost a quarter of the children are already showing signs of malnourishment, making the threat of the measles virus even greater.? The month-long campaign is being led by the Sudanese Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, in coordination with several national and international organizations. Thousands of vehicles have been drafted-in to transport heat-sensitive vaccines and mobile teams along dangerous roads throughout the inaccessible region뭩 three provinces. "In addition to saving the lives of children, it is hoped that뾟y facilitating access to populations affected by the crisis and allowing for an assessment of their health situation뾲he campaign will provide a means to better respond to people’s urgent health needs,?said Dr Lee Jong-wook, Director-General of the World Health Organization. Measles is caused by a highly infectious virus, and is a leading cause of child mortality globally. The threat to life is compounded when children are malnourished, and even more so during population displacement. Vaccinators are also using the opportunity to provide life-saving vitamin A supplementation and to immunize at least 90% of children under five against poliomyelitis. Funding for the campaign comes from the British Government뭩 Department for International Development (?500,000), the US Government뭩 Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (US$1 million), the Humanitarian Aid Office of the European Commission (?1 million), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (US$500,000), the Government of Italy, and the UNICEF Netherlands National Committee (US$250,000). * * *
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