from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
TRIPOLI – THE lives of some 250 000 children aged under one year are at risk from preventable disease because critical shortages in vaccine supplies.
A worsening armed conflict, outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), collapsing health services, power cuts and shortages of water supplies are worsening the situation.
The COVID-19 lockdown has disrupted access to routine immunisation services and led to an increased risk of a resurgence of measles and polio outbreaks.
These vaccines are crucial in protecting children from diphtheria, influenza, pertussis, poliomyelitis, tetanus and viral hepatitis.
Children in hard-to-reach and conflict-affected areas are at particular risk because they may have already missed some vaccination doses.
Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) special representative in Libya, said when routine vaccinations ere missed, there was a high chance of a resurgence of a measles outbreak, other preventable diseases, and fatalities among the children.
“There is an urgent need to ensure an uninterrupted flow of funds for vaccine procurement to cater for the current shortfall,” the envoy said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) also warned of serious consequences if the vaccine supply dried up.
“This will place the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in Libya at risk,” warned Elizabeth Hoff, WHO representative in Libya.
Numerous conflicts have divided the North African country since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 following insurgents backed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) airstrikes led by France-USA forces .
The latest conflict started in April last year when the rebel Libyan National Army (LNA) launched a failed offensive to dislodge the internationally-endorsed government from Tripoli.
– CAJ News