Vaccinators aiming to stem the spread of measles among IDP children in MogadishuPhoto | Measles vaccination teams at Banadir regional administration head office/ Munasar Mohamed
(ERGO) - Mohamed Lidow Abdi, 50, was one of the first parents to bring his children forward for the measles vaccination when health teams visited the displacement camp where he is living in Garasbaley, on the outskirts of the Somali capital Mogadishu.
His three-year-old son has been suffering from measles for more than a week, with a high fever, red eyes and a body rash. He was unable to take his child to hospital as he had no money for transport.
Since Mohamed’s family fled their dried up farm in Qansahdere in the southern Somali region of Bay in January, they have been living hand-to-mouth in one of the teeming IDP camps in the capital. Three of Mohamed’s sons, the youngest of his seven children, received the measles vaccine on 21 May.
This vaccination exercise from 21 to 25 May aims to vaccinate 125,000 children in Hodan, Deynile, Dharkenley and Kahda districts of Mogadishu and along the Mogadishu-Afgoye road. These are the areas hosting the majority of the displaced people in the city.
The campaign, organised by Somalia’s health ministry with support from the UN agencies, UNICEF and WHO, is hoped to stem the spread of the disease.
Five children died of measles in Banadir hospital in the past two weeks, according to Dr Lul Mohamed Mohamud, director of the hospital’s children’s department. Dr Lul told Radio Ergo that 40 children with measles are currently admitted at the hospital. All of them came from IDP camps in and around the city.
Dr Lul linked the spread of the disease in the camps to the crowded conditions and failure to separate infected children from others. Malnutrition rates are also high, leaving children highly vulnerable to infection and less able to recover.
Health workers visiting the camps are administering the measles vaccination along with Vitamin A and deworming medication.
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