Syrian crisis triggers measles outbreak

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Syrian children outside their UNHCR tent at Jordan's Za'atri refugee camp. Photo: UNHCR/M. Abu Asaker

Mass vaccination campaigns are underway in countries hosting Syrian refugees to bring an outbreak of measles under control, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

There have been sporadic outbreaks of measles reported in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.

UNICEF says with the large population movement and the breakdown of regular health services in Syria, additional precautions are required to ensure that children are protected against measles which can lead to death if not treated early.

More than 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled into neighbouring countries.

Inside Syria over 4.5 million people have been displaced with many living in cramped and unsanitary conditions where disease can easily spread.

Marixie Mercado from UNICEF has more.

"The concern is very real. These are conditions that are conducive to the spread of disease and things are not getting any better for the Syrians either in the country or outside. No children have died so far from measles. The assessment is that these outbreaks have been contained thus far in Syria and across the region, in large part because of an immunization campaign last year that reached 1.3 million with measles vaccinations and 1.5 million children with polio vaccinations."

UNICEF says the on going conflict in Syria has seriously damaged the health system including the national routine immunization programme.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva

Duration 1.23″

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