Amid Widespread Conflict, WHO and UNICEF Support Emergency Polio Vaccination for 15 000 Children

Baghdad, 19 September 2016. The Debaga IDP camp in Erbil governorate hosts around 33,000 persons from villages near Qayyara District in Ninewa Governorate. This displacement occurred as the Iraq Government engages in military action in preparation to regain control of Mosul. . Over 15,000 children in Debaga camp were at very high risk of measles and polio due as they had no access to immunization activities for about two years

The Erbil Directorate of Health (DoH), with the Ministry of Health Baghdad, the Ministry of Health Kurdistan Region Government, UNICEF and WHO, implemented a 9-day vaccination campaign that started on 30th August 2016 to immunize children against polio and measles. The target included all children less than 15 years old for polio vaccine and children between 9 months and 15 years for measles vaccine. A total of 15,000 children less than 15 years old were targeted.
The post campaign assessment supported by WHO, carried out by volunteers from the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, found that more than 95% of children were reached in this campaign.
Altaf Musani, WHO Representative said, “It doesn’t end there. The polio vaccine has to be administered at least three times to each child, so more efforts are needed to ensure immunization services established for IDPs to protect them against all vaccines preventable diseases.
“Immunization activities like the on in Debaga camp are at the heart of UNICEF’s work. These children have been deprived of so much, and vaccination will protect them against killer diseases so they can continue to learn and grow,” added Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Iraq Country Representative.
Polio is an incurable, contagious disease that is easily preventable if children receive vaccines. In May 2016, Iraq was removed from the list of polio-vulnerable countries, a landmark achievement made through the continued support of WHO and UNICEF to the Central Government and the Kurdistan Regional (KRI) Ministries of Health. Although Iraq has not reported a single polio case since April 2014, it remains at risk of polio importation due to difficult access to vaccination services for about 20 per cent of its population.
More resources are needed to ensure that all vulnerable children in Iraq live safe and healthy lives. Upward of 3 million US$ are needed to support vaccination services for populations affected by Mosul Operations.
For more information, please contact:
Ms. Rosane Lopes, Communications Officer| World Health Organization, Iraq Country Office | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | +964 7809 288 614
Ms. Ajyal Sultany, Communications Officer | World Health Organization, Iraq Country Office| This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | +964 7510 101 469
Mr. Jeffrey Bates, Chief of Communications| UNICEF Iraq | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | +964 780 196 4524
More Information about Polio
Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013–2018
http://www.polioeradication.org/Resourcelibrary/Strategyandwork.aspx#sthash.Uz5rkHER.dpu  
WHO – Polio
http://www.who.int/topics/poliomyelitis/en/  
Eradicating Polio – Unicef
http://www.unicef.org/immunization/polio/ 

Additional Info

  • Agency: UNICEF, WHO

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