Somalia: UNICEF immunizes 100,000 children and women in camps
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has announced plans to immunize approximately 100,000 internally displaced Somalis living in camps along the Mogadishu-Afgoye corridor this week.
The vast majority of Somali children under the age of five – 95 per cent – have not received the full recommended course of vaccinations. The new drive will provide those to 47,600 children as well as 56,000 women who have fled recent violence
UNICEF's Representative to Somalia, Christian Balslev-Olesen said UNICEF is spearheading efforts to reach the displaced in response to Somalia's volatile security conditions. "If you consider that ten percent of the country's population has had to flee their homes – with these numbers increasing every day – then we have to find effective means of delivering services to these people. This is why UNICEF and its partners have organized campaigns like this one to reach every child.”
Somalia has some of the worst social indicators for children in the world: one in eight children dies before his fifth birthday, one in three is chronically malnourished, hardly a third of families have access to clean drinking water, just 30 per cent of children go to school and on average people only live to the age of 47, according to UNICEF.
“If the United Nations is to remain relevant and improve the lives of Somalis, then we need to be more aggressive in how we reach children who need us,” said Mr. Balslev-Olesen.
This week's immunization campaign is one of three that UNICEF and its partners will organize in the coming weeks, said the agency, which is also working to deliver clean water, sanitation and education facilities, as well as to improve the delivery and quality of health and social protection services.
With the fall of Somalia's Government in 1991, the country's health system has faced severe challenges in providing essential services to its population. But UNICEF said recent data coming out of the country indicates that effective awareness-raising campaigns and temporary and mobile health delivery points can significantly reduce the number of children dying from measles and polio.
UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) said they can reach 3.5 million children and women in the next two years for as little as $15 per person per year. This cost will enable, among other critical child survival interventions, the delivery of measles, polio, diphtheria, tetanus and tuberculosis vaccines to children under five along with a capsule of vitamin A to boast their immunity. Women of reproductive age will receive iron supplementation and tetanus toxoid immunization.