About 4.7 million children in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states in Nigeria North-East have benefited from the United Nation’s vaccination campaign aimed at protecting the vulnerable children in the insurgency-hit states against measles and other highly contagious diseases, the global body said on Thursday.
The vaccination campaign was conducted in partnership with the Nigerian government, WHO, and several non-governmental organizations. It also includes a vitamin A supplement for children under five to boost their immunity as well as de-worming tablets. Most of the funding for the campaign was provided by the Measles and Rubella Initiative.
The vaccination exercise which had kicked off for the past two weeks is expected to be concluded this week, however, UNICEF has raised concern over the inability to reach some of the intended children in areas deemed unsecured.
“Security has improved in some areas so we have acted quickly to access places we could not previously reach and protect children from the spread of a very dangerous disease”, UNICEF representative Mohamed Fall said in a statement.
“We are still extremely concerned about children living in large areas of Borno state that are not yet accessible.” the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) said.
Adamawa, Borno and Yobe are the three states hit hardest by Boko Haram violence which has killed about 15,000 people and forced more than two million to flee their homes in a seven-year-long campaign to create an Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria.
The United Nations in December doubled its humanitarian funding appeal for northeast Nigeria to $1 billion for 2017 in a bid to reach some seven million people hit by the Boko Haram insurgency who need life-saving help.
Available data shows that around two thirds of Borno’s health facilities have been damaged or destroyed during the insurgency, disrupting health care for millions of people, according to the World Health Organization.
Some 25,000 children in Nigeria suffered measles last year, at least 100 of them died, according to the U.N. agency. Meanwhile, UNICEF said it had worked with the government to repair health centres and set up temporary clinics to provide more than four million people with services ranging from antenatal care to treatment for malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia and measles.
UNICEF also confirmed it has trained more than 1,000 health workers on emergency primary health care services; in areas that have become accessible more recently to humanitarian workers, UNICEF has recruited 60 nurse-midwives and deployed six doctors to strengthen health services.
While the Nigerian army has recaptured large swathes of land from the jihadist group, much of the northeast is still cut off from humanitarian aid with Boko Haram fighters prowling in the bush and regularly carrying out attacks and suicide bombings.
Measles, which spreads through direct contact and the air, is one of the biggest killers of children worldwide, but can be prevented with two doses of a widely available vaccine.
The number of deaths from measles has fallen by 79 percent worldwide since 2000, due mainly to mass vaccination campaigns, but nearly 400 children still die from the disease every day.