Pakistan: UN intensifies measles vaccination efforts in quake-stricken areas

8 December 2005
Child at  UNICEF vaccination point

As the harsh Himalayan winter closes in on quake-stricken Pakistan, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is intensifying its ongoing battle against measles outbreaks as well as fighting plummeting temperatures.

As the harsh Himalayan winter closes in on quake-stricken Pakistan, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is intensifying its ongoing battle against measles outbreaks as well as fighting plummeting temperatures.

Pakistani-administered Kashmir has now seen half a million children vaccinated against the disease, with nearly 200,000 under-5s receiving vitamin A supplements as well. An extra dose of oral polio vaccine was also administered to all under-5 children.

To date, 14 cases of measles have been reported in one small tent camp near Muzaffarabad, underlying the necessity to continue the vaccination efforts.

The congested makeshift camps in Muzaffarabad are a particular cause of concern, as crowding, inadequate sanitation and poor conditions in general all threaten children's health, already weakened by chronic under-nutrition and quake-caused trauma.

As UNICEF enhances its work on the immunization front, it is also taking steps to protect children and their families from falling temperatures. UN agencies and their partners have been coordinating the construction of prefabricated shelters. Most quake survivors are now living in tent camps not designed to withstand the harsh winter.

“Our immediate concern is the shelters: the water and sanitation situation and the winterization of the tents,” Mirza Imran Raza, who is responsible for UNICEF's measles campaign, said.

“UNICEF, along with other agencies, plans to bring about 60 pre-fabs for the health facilities in and around Kashmir, to be installed by mid January, and bring all the facilities and medical supplies [needed] for 300,000 people over a period of three months,” he added.

The agency has already started delivering the first batch of over 50,000 warm clothing kits for children who survived the quake. Available in four sizes, each kit contains a padded jacket, a hat or shawl, socks and snow boots. Over 100,000 more kits are on the way.

UNICEF is also distributing thousands of hygiene kits to women, each containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, soap, nail clippers, cotton gauze and sanitary products.

 

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