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[Gaza Strip] Major immunization Campaign

2004.06.28
Major immunization Campaign Launched UN Bodies call for free access Ramallah/Gaza City, 28 June 2004 뻌NICEF launched a major measles immunization campaign in the West Bank and Gaza Strip today, aimed at providing more than 540,000 children aged 9 ?59 months with a safe injection of measles vaccine and doses of Vitamin A. The three-week long campaign is led by the Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Palestinian Authority, UNICEF and UNRWA - with financial support from the Japanese Government, USAID and a contribution from the Micronutrient Initiative. According to a recent survey conducted by the Palestinian Ministry of Health and UNICEF, more than one-third of Palestinian young children showed no immunity against measles. In some areas, up to 50% of children are not protected against the disease. Moreover, more than 22% of children under five suffer from a deficiency of vitamin A and an additional 54% are at risk for developing it. "Every child needs this vaccine. Every child deserves to be protected from preventable diseases like measles. We can’t keep them all safe from the conflict, but we should be able to achieve the goals of this campaign,?says David S. Bassiouni, Special Representative, UNICEF. 밃n outstanding effort is being deployed for this purpose and it marks the first time a public health campaign of this scope is being implemented in the Palestinian Territory.? Dozens of mobile teams ?backed up by four-wheel-drive vehicles and an extensive awareness campaign - will conduct operations in 15 districts in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Health staff will provide immunization and vitamin A in existing facilities or in outreach posts. Trained logistic teams from the MoH, UNICEF and UNRWA will ensure the routing of the vaccine, Vitamin A, and other equipment to remote villages. Emerging evidence suggests the ongoing conflict is increasingly diminishing achievements in West Bank and Gaza. "The incidence of vaccine preventable diseases has been under control until now and immunization coverage is beyond 90% - among the highest in the region" said Peter Hansen, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General. "But curfews and closures are creating huge access problems both for Palestinian health professionals trying to get to their centres and Palestinian parents trying to get their children to clinics. In this environment I fear a measles outbreak could become a major threat affecting not only Palestinian children, but all children in the area." UNICEF, UNWRA, WHO and OCHA called upon the Israeli Authorities to abide by its obligations under international Humanitarian Law as well by its obligations to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child ?ratified in 1991. The UN bodies call for safe, timely and easy access of health professionals to their centres, parents to health clinics and all needed and relevant supplies to allow the smooth functioning of this very important campaign. 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 in densely populated areas within the Palestinian community. * * *
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