UNICEF, WHO call for emergency action on measles and polio outbreak
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Friday called for swift intervention over the outbreak of measles and polio in many parts of the world.
The two agencies a statement posted on WHO website said failure to be proactive in eradicating the childhood disease would lead to a global resurgence of the disease.
“The two organisations estimate that 655 million dollars (400 million dollars for polio and 255 million dollars for measles) are needed to address dangerous immunity gaps in non-Gavi eligible countries and target age groups,” the statement said.
In the statement, the WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on health services and in particular immunisation services worldwide.
“But unlike with COVID, we have the tools and knowledge to stop diseases such as polio and measles.
“What we need are the resources and commitments to put these tools and knowledge into action. If we do that, children’s lives will be saved,” the Ethiopia-born medical doctor said.
On her part, the UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, called for renewed efforts from governments and health experts in the fight against the diseases.
She said: “We cannot allow the fight against one deadly disease to cause us to lose ground in the fight against other diseases.
“Addressing the global COVID-19 pandemic is critical.
“However, other deadly diseases also threaten the lives of millions of children in some of the poorest areas of the world.
“That is why today we are urgently calling for global action from country leaders, donors and partners.
“We need additional financial resources to safely resume vaccination campaigns and prioritise immunisation systems that are critical to protect children and avert other epidemics besides COVID-19.”