at least 413 children will die from measles in 2023

WHO estimates that there were at least 34,300 cases of measles and rubella in the first seven months of the year, compared to 27,000 in 2022 (220 deaths). Critical issues include an overburdened health system and low immunization rates. The vaccination campaign needs to be strengthened. AsiaNews Sources: Situation remains ‘shaky’ for a population in ‘painful crisis’.

Sana’a (AsiaNews) – In the first seven months of the year, at least 413 people – but the real number could be even higher – died of measles in Yemen, confirming the humanitarian situation that remains critical in the measles-stricken Arab country. prolonged internal war and indirectly. AsiaNews local sources, on condition of anonymity, confirm that economic, medical and humanitarian “conditions” remain “shaky” and that the population is going through a “painful crisis” that does not appear to be ending despite timid attempts by international diplomacy to reach a settlement. truce.

“As of July 31 this year,” the World Health Organization (WHO) report explains, “the number of cases of suspected measles and rubella in Yemen reached 34,300, and the number of deaths was at least 413 people.” According to experts at the UN health agency, these numbers are rapidly deteriorating compared to “27,000 cases and 220 deaths recorded in all of 2022.”

The spread of these life-threatening diseases – especially in a highly critical health situation – occurs against the backdrop of a sharp deterioration in the situation. The consequences associated with the conflict in Yemen, the WHO note explains, include a severe “economic downturn and low incomes, population displacement coupled with shelter overcrowding, as well as an overburdened health system and low levels of immunization.”

It adds that the UN agency is working closely with local health authorities and international partners to “increase support for routine vaccination campaigns” against measles, a highly contagious viral disease that mainly affects children. It causes a painful rash, eye irritation, fever, muscle stiffness, and severe coughing in those who contract the virus, with more severe consequences in those who are weakened or at risk.

The conflict in Yemen erupted in 2014 as an internal clash between protehran Houthi rebels and government forces backed by Saudi Arabia; It escalated into open war within months after Riyadh intervened in March 2015 at the head of a coalition of Arab countries and has claimed almost 400,000 lives in recent years. According to the UN, this was the reason “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”affected by Covid-19″destructive“; millions of people are on the verge of starvation, and children -11,000 dead in conflict – will suffer consequences for decades. There are more than three million internally displaced people in the country, most of whom live in conditions of extreme poverty, hunger and various kinds of epidemics, among which cholera stands out.

In a critical reality, the lack of information about the impact of the epidemic on high-risk pregnant women becomes a source of additional concern. According to WHO-UNICEF national vaccination coverage estimates for 2022, 27% of children under the age of one year are not vaccinated against measles and rubella. Arturo Pesigan, WHO Representative in Yemen, emphasizes that “a vaccination campaign must target all children under the age of 10 to be comprehensive and effective. However, a lack of funds has reduced support and limited the target for children under the age of five.” group with a higher mortality rate. Last year, the UN agency oversaw the vaccination of about 913,000 children against measles and rubella, with a coverage rate of 65% by July 2023. A national measles and rubella prevention campaign is planned for September, targeting 1.2 million children under the age of five. age.

(Photo by UNHCR in Yemen)

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