PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Friday July 30, 2010 – The United Nations and its partners are aiming to reach an additional 500,000 Haitian children during a second round of emergency immunizations in the Caribbean nation that was struck by a devastating earthquake just over six months ago.
The second round of immunizations will consist of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), measles, rubella and polio, Marco Jimenez of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told reporters in Geneva.
More than 275,000 children have been immunized so far against major vaccine preventable diseases, according to UNICEF, which noted that there are few places in the world today where children are as vulnerable as they are in Haiti.
The country is reeling from the January 12th quake which killed more than 200,000 people and caused severe destruction and damage in large swathes of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and other areas.
Despite some progress, UNICEF said over 1.2 million children in the country are exposed to exploitation and abuse, and 800,000 live in tents at sites which lack adequate sanitation and where access to safe water, education and health facilities are limited.
Six months after the tragedy, safe water is being provided to some 1.2 million people through UNICEF and its partner organizations. In addition, nutrition programmes are providing food to some 550,000 people with special needs – children under five and lactating women – and some 2,000 children with severe acute malnutrition are now receiving life-saving therapeutic feeding and care.
“Some of the milestones at six months are truly remarkable. So far no increase in malnutrition has been recorded and we have also not seen any major disease outbreaks despite huge challenges in health and sanitation,” the agency wrote in a six-month report launched earlier this month.
Jimenez added that 63,000 children are also benefiting from the network of 225 UNICEF-supported Child-Friendly Spaces, which are designed to offer children and adolescents a safe space to participate in recreational activities and where they can receive more targeted psychosocial support.