The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that no fewer than 4.7 million children from Northeast of Nigeria are to be vaccinated against measles from Friday. According to a UN report, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu, Country Representative of WHO has said that the UN-backed mass vaccination was to protect the children against a measles outbreak in conflict-affected states. “This measles vaccination campaign is an emergency intervention to protect more than four million children against a highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease as massive disruption to health services in conflict-affected areas for many years has deprived these children of essential childhood vaccinations. Alemu has said that many of them have severe malnutrition, making them extremely vulnerable to serious complications and death from measles. Measles is a highly contagious disease that is one of the leading causes of death in young children.

According to him, in 2015, there were more than 134,000 deaths from measles globally, with most of them being children below the age of five. “During 2000 to 2015, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 20.3 million deaths, making it one of the best buys in public health.

Alemu has also said that the current two-week campaign will target all children aged from six months to 10 years old in accessible areas in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. “These are states where WHO is supporting the primary healthcare development agencies by providing expertise in areas including logistics, data management, training, social mobilization, monitoring and evaluation, supportive supervision and waste management. From early September to Dec. 18, 2016, the WHO-established Early Warning, Alert and Response System reported more than 1,500 suspected measles cases in Borno.

He added more than 77 per cent of children under the age of five in the state have never received the measles vaccine and this is the age group where most cases occurred.”

According to him, the state’s health authorities, with support from WHO and partners, have already vaccinated more than 83,000 children aged six months to 15 years old living in camps for internally displaced people. “The humanitarian crisis caused by conflict in Borno state has resulted in more than 1.4 million IDPs living in more than 100 camps.

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