Somalia, UN vow to ramp up immunization for children


MOGADISHU — Somalia and the United Nations agencies on Saturday jointly urged humanitarian partners, local private agencies and donors to help boost children immunization efforts and outreach across the country.

The ministry of health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said Somalia has an estimated 639, 000 children aged under one year, but many are not able to access their regular childhood vaccinations.

“It’s vital that parents and caregivers take control of their children’s health by making sure every child gets their routine vaccinations,” UNICEF Representative in Somalia Angela Kearney said in a joint statement issued to mark the World Immunization Week.

“Vaccines ensure protection against preventable diseases and a healthier life. Vaccines are free and it’s the right thing to do,” she added.

World Immunization Week 2022 which runs from April 24-30 aims to spur greater engagement around immunization globally, to reiterate the importance of vaccination and improve the health and well-being of everyone, everywhere.

According to the UN, some 510,951 children received the third dose of penta vaccines last year to protect them from pertussis, diphtheria, hepatitis B, tetanus and Haemophilus influenzae type b, while around 80 percent of all measles cases confirmed in 2021 were children aged under 5.

The UN said some of the challenges Somalia faces in ensuring all communities have access to vaccinations include a fragile health system, further impeded by conflict and natural disasters, including the ongoing drought, limited access to cold chain facilities in remote areas and among hard-to-reach populations, and difficulty in reaching people living in insecure and inaccessible locations.

Fawziya Abikar Nur, Minister of Health and Human Services, said only 9 percent of Somalis have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Nur said in developing countries, such as Somalia, the majority of the population still remains to be vaccinated.

“They are still at risk, and we cannot emphasize enough – we must reach everyone, wherever they live, to stop diseases such as COVID-19 from mutating and circulating,” she said.

Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Somalia Representative, said vaccines are one of the greatest success stories of public health.

“And yet, with all the knowledge and tools we have, Somali children are still contracting vaccine-preventable diseases, and adults are still being infected with diseases such as COVID-19,” said Malik.

He described how the advent of smallpox vaccines showed the world that it is possible to eradicate diseases if governments and all stakeholders join forces.

“It is our moral imperative to ensure every Somali has equitable access to vaccinations and a life free of disease and disabilities. We must all join forces to reach more people with life-saving vaccines,” Malik said.


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