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Coronavirus | UNICEF says don’t ignore other immunisation efforts

Prepare for an intensified immunisation campaign when COVID-19 is under control, it tells governments.

In their efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), governments worldwide should not ignore life-saving health interventions such as immunisation, the UNICEF appealed on Thursday.

“As the pandemic progresses, critical life-saving services, including immunisation, will likely be disrupted, especially in Africa, Asia and the Middle East where they are sorely needed. At the greatest risk are children from the poorest families in countries affected by conflicts and natural disasters,” Henrietta Fore, UNICEF's Executive Director said in a press statement, adding that outbreaks such as cholera and measles would tax the already stretched health services and lead to additional loss of lives.

Ms. Fore said if the governments postponed mass vaccination drives to ensure physical distancing, they must prepare for an intense immunisation campaign when COVID-19 was under control.

“We are working hard to ensure adequate vaccine supplies are available in countries that need them. We are in close communication with global vaccine suppliers to ensure production is not disrupted and supply is managed in the best possible manner under these difficult circumstances. We are also providing greater support to governments to continue the supply of vaccines during this pandemic,” she stated.

Allocates $9 million 

The UNICEF also announced that it would scale up support to all countries to help children continue their learning despite schools being shut. It had allocated an initial sum of $9 million to help governments and education partners develop plans alternative learning programmes as well as ensure access to remote learning.

“Schools in the majority of countries worldwide have closed. It is an unprecedented situation and unless we collectively act now to protect children’s education, societies and economies will feel the burden long after we’ve beaten COVID-19. In the most vulnerable communities, the impact will span generations. Based on lessons learned with the school closures in response to Ebola, the longer children stay away from school, the less likely they are to ever return. Giving children alternative ways to learn and also by doing so, rebuild a routine is a critical part of our response,” said Robert Jenkins, UNICEF Global Chief of Education.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 6:19:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/covid-19-fight-should-not-hit-immunisation-unicef/article31174882.ece

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