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Measles Vaccination Drive Intensified In Quake-Hit Pakistan

The UNICEF is intensifying its battle against measles outbreaks in the quake-hit Pakistan as the harsh Himalayan winter is closing in, with plummeting temperatures//.

Pakistan-administered Kashmir has now seen half a million children vaccinated against the disease, with nearly 200,000 under-five receiving vitamin A supplements as well. An extra dose of oral polio vaccine was also administered to all under-five children.

To date, 14 cases of measles have been reported in one small tent camp near Muzaffarabad, underlying the necessity to continue the vaccination efforts.

The congested makeshift camps in Muzaffarabad are a particular cause of concern, as crowding, inadequate sanitation and poor conditions in general threaten children's health, already weakened by chronic under-nutrition and quake-related trauma.

As UNICEF enhances its work on the immunization front, it is also taking steps to protect children and their families from falling temperatures.

UN agencies and their partners have been coordinating the construction of prefabricated shelters. Most quake survivors are now living in tent camps not designed to withstand the harsh winter.

"Our immediate concern is the shelters: the water and sanitation situation and the winterisation of the tents," Mirza Imran Raza, who is responsible for UNICEF's measles campaign, said.

"UNICEF, along with other agencies, plans to bring about 60 pre-fabricated shelters for the health facilities in and around Kashmir, to be installed by mid January, and bring all the facilities and medical supplies [needed] for 300,000 people over a period of three months," he added.

More than 80,000 people were killed in the Oct 8 temblor and hundreds of thousands rendered homeless.

--IANS
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