Mareeg.com-Mogadishu, 14 July 2014: The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated US$1.4 million for an emergency campaign to combat the outbreak of measles in Somalia, that has already left thousands of children at risk of disability and death. The funding will be used to vaccinate 520,000 children under 5 years in the worst affected areas of Banadir, Lower Juba and Puntland.
Around 4,000 suspected cases of measles were reported between January and June, more than double the suspected cases seen in the same period last year. Three quarters of cases were reported in children under 5 years.
“The CERF funding comes at a crucial time when thousands of children’s lives are at risk,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Philippe Lazzarini, who is responsible for pooled fund allocation at country level. “The vaccination drive will help prevent the spread of the disease to other locations, particularly those inaccessible to vaccination teams. A nationwide catch-up campaign will be conducted in the next six months as part of the overall measles control strategy.”
Somalia faces some of the worst health indicators in the world; only 30 per cent of people have access to health services and one in five children die before their fifth birthdays. Measles is one of the leading killers of young children, a situation made worse by the lack of health services.
“A high number of Somali children are malnourished and therefore far more susceptible to illness such as measles – which kills many children under 5 or leaves them blind, deaf or with brain damage,” said Sikander Khan, the UNICEF Representative for Somalia.
“This is extremely alarming,” said Dr Ghulam Popal, WHO Somalia Representative. “We know there has been extremely low immunization coverage among Somali children and we need to urgently ensure as many as possible are immunized.”
Despite immense health and other humanitarian challenges facing the Horn of Africa country, Somalia has one of the most underfunded aid appeals in the world. Halfway through the year, the 2014 Strategic Response Plan is only a quarter funded.
The CERF allocation will be complemented by $300,000 from the Somalia Common Humanitarian Fund.
The Central Emergency Response Fund is a global pooled humanitarian fund set up in 2005 to enable more timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to people affected by armed conflicts and natural disasters. It is funded by voluntary contributions from UN Member States, NGOs, local government, the private sector and individual donors, and is managed by UNOCHA. The Common Humanitarian Fund is country-based and managed by UNOCHA on behalf of the Humanitarian Coordinator.