Over half a million children in Nepal are being vaccinated by healthcare workers as fears grow that last month's massive earthquake has made children more susceptible to diseases.
UNICEF has warned of a race against time to prevent a deadly outbreak of measles in the impoverished Himalayan nation following the April 25 quake that killed 7,652 people in Nepal.
AdvertisementThe UN children's fund, the World Health Organization and the Nepalese government are targeting the urgent inoculation of 500,000 children in the areas worst-hit by the quake.
"Before the earthquake, one in ten children in Nepal was not vaccinated against measles, so we're going to vaccinate half a million children in the coming weeks," said, Kent Page, UNICEF Nepal's emergency spokesperson.
On May 6, at a mobile vaccination unit in mountainous Kotdanda, near the capital Kathmandu, a steady stream of women queued up, each carrying a baby or young child. The children received a medical checkup by female Nepali health workers before receiving their vaccinations.
"Many of the children are living outdoors, they're not getting the food they need, their sort of physical well-being isn't so good, so they're more susceptible to often fatal diseases like measles. We're doing this measles vaccination campaign to prevent any outbreak or spread of measles," Page said.
Health workers have started by immunizing children under five in makeshift camps that have sprung up in three densely populated districts in Kathmandu Valley -- Bhaktapur, Kathmandu and Lalitpur.
The vaccination drive will eventually include 12 districts most affected by the disaster.