Yemen has witnessed a surge of measles cases in the past seven months, leading to more than 400 deaths and roughly 34,000 infections, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO is concerned over increasing cases of measles and rubella among children in Yemen.
Since the beginning of the year and until the end of July, the number of suspected cases of measles and rubella in Yemen has reached almost 34,300 and 413 deaths, compared to 27,000 cases and 220 associated deaths in 2022.
The WHO is working with the Yemeni Ministry of Public Health and Population (MoPHP) and partners to increase support for routine vaccination interventions.
The WHO also continues to work within the National Health Framework to provide technical and financial support to improve coverage among children.
A measles-rubella vaccination campaign, targeting 1.2 million children under the age of five, is scheduled to be implemented in September.
In 2022, the WHO supported the protection of around 913,000 children from measles and rubella.
As of July, the MoPHP, with the support of the WHO and other partners, reached a coverage rate of around 65 percent of all children for both shots of measles and rubella (MR1 and MR2).
"Ideally, the outbreak response vaccination campaign should target at least all children under the age of ten to be comprehensive and effective; however, the current funding gap has eroded support and limited the target to children under five years of age," said Dr. Arturo Pesigan, WHO Representative in Yemen.
According to the WHO-UNICEF National Immunization Coverage Estimate for 2022, 27 percent of children under one year of age in Yemen are unvaccinated for measles and rubella and have not met the minimal set of vaccines for full protection.
Several fatal epidemic diseases have started spreading in Yemen since the coup by the Iran-backed Houthi militias against the legitimate government in 2015.
Yemen's Expanded Program on Immunization started in 1974 and aims to reduce the rates of maternal and neonatal tetanus, ensure full immunization of children under one year of age, and extend all new vaccines and preventative health interventions to children in all districts, reducing the number of deaths associated with vaccine-preventable diseases.
Various childhood disease vaccines have been introduced since then, and currently, immunization against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles, pneumococcal, hepatitis B, diarrhea, pneumonia, and tuberculosis is available to every child.
Similarly, a surveillance system was established to report, investigate, and respond to any outbreak related to vaccine-preventable diseases in Yemen's Expanded Program on Immunization.
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