A campaign to immunise tens of thousands of children
displaced by the conflict in Lebanon is underway amid fears that the
mass population displacement provoked by the 24-day old crisis could
trigger an outbreak of measles, polio or other diseases.
The Ministry of Health – supported by UNICEF, the World Health
Organisation and a variety of NGO partners – aims to ensure that
children living in schools and other public places are protected against
The initial focus of the campaign is some 18,000 children who are
now camped in crowded and often unsanitary conditions in the Beirut
area. Next week, the vaccination teams will switch their attention
to the much larger number of displaced families staying in Mount Lebanon
and other parts of the country.
“ Immunisation is vital in a crisis like the one,”
UNICEF Lebanon Representative Roberto Laurenti.
“ The last thing
these distressed and fearful families need is to have their children
fall victim to a potentially fatal disease.”
Measles is the principal concern: children up to the age of 15 are
given injectable vaccine to shield them from a disease which can be
a killer in circumstances such as those Lebanon is currently experiencing.
Younger children aged five and under are receiving polio vaccine drops.
Like measles, polio is a highly contagious disease which can spread
rapidly when families are living in crowded conditions. Finally, drops
of Vitamin A, a micronutrient that is highly beneficial to children’s
overall health, are being given to children up to the age of five.
To support the campaign, UNICEF is flying a consignment of measles
vaccine to Syria from its supply hub in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is
planned to bring the vaccine to Beirut from Damascus by refrigerated
truck. 250,000 doses of Vitamin A procured earlier by UNICEF are already
stocked with the Ministry of Health.
In addition to the vaccination campaign, since the start of the crisis
in Lebanon, UNICEF has provided:
- Essential drugs (including ORS & lice treatment) for children.
Beneficiaries reached: 50,000
- 48 water tanks with a 5,000
liters capacity, to the Beirut, Aley and Chouf areas; Beneficiaries
reached: 23,347 persons.
- 237 water kits (containing collapsible
containers, purification tablets and other items) throughout
Beirut, Mount Lebanon, the South,
North, and Bekaa; IDPs reached: 78,000.
- 3,150 boxes of water
purification tablets to Beirut and the South; IDPs reached: 63,315
bags/bars of soap to Beirut, Mount Lebanon, the South, North, Bekaa;
IDPs reached: 100,772.
- 263,608 diapers to Beirut, Mount
Lebanon, the South, North, and Bekaa; IDPs reached: 88,235.