Iraq's children are being helped this week as plans are revealed that the MMR vaccination is going to be given to 3.9 million children, in an attempt to close an immunity gap.
Being a child in Iraq you live a life that could be ended any minute from a roadside bomb or gunmen running into your school. Despite this ongoing violence and threat, the government and international aid agencies started a major immunisation drive on Sunday to avert an outbreak of measles.
Claire Hajaj, UNICEF’s chief of communications at its Iraq Support Centre in Amman (ISCA), said to Middle East Online: "One million children have no immunity to measles - more than enough to spark a dangerous outbreak in which many children could die or be left with lasting disabilities."
The US $10 million, two-week campaign is being led by the Iraqi Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and from the European Commission. It hopes to reach 3.9 million Iraqi children aged between one and five with the combined MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.
Previously, vaccinators have been unable to reach all children in Iraq because of insecurity, particularly in restive areas. This time, vaccinators are employing different strategies to reach children.
Muhammad Obaidi, media officer for the secretary of health in Anbar province, said he was concerned for the safety of vaccinators in dangerous areas.
“We have been trying to speak with the representatives of all the fighting groups in these hot spot areas - as well as the military and the local population - to guarantee that vaccinators can reach children safely. But nowadays we should be careful all the time and not trust anybody as we never know with whom we are dealing,” Obaidi said.
Vaccinators said they were scared of encountering violence in the course of the immunisation campaign but that their overwhelming sense of humanitarian duty to save Iraqi children kept them optimistic.
Middle East Online