The World Health Organization is set to begin a nationwide measles vaccination campaign in Somalia, as the country battles its worst outbreak of the disease in years.
So far this year, almost 19,000 suspected cases have been reported, compared to 5,000–10,000 cases per year since 2014.
According to WHO, more than 80 percent of those affected by the current outbreak are children under 10 years of age.
The Horn of African nation’s minimum routine measles vaccination coverage is only 60%.
The agency in partnership with Somalia’s health ministry has conducted a series of trainings to enhance national capacity in early outbreak detection and response for measles ahead of the vaccination campaign.
Earlier this year, WHO collaborated with national health authorities to vaccinate around 600,000 children nagged between six months and 5 years.
Despite these efforts however, the transmission of measles continues, compounded by the on-going pre-famine situation, continued mass displacement, and undernourished children living in unhygienic conditions.
The new vaccination campaign targets 4.2 million children, and will also intensify efforts to strengthen routine immunization and reach unvaccinated children to boost their immunity.
WHO Representative in Somalia Dr Ghulam Popal said the agency would continue to work with Somali health authorities to improve measles case management during outbreaks.