Somalia, UN step up trainings on measles early detection

By Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

Somalia and the World Health Organization (WHO) have conducted a series of trainings to enhance national capacity in early outbreak detection and response for measles ahead of a nationwide measles vaccination campaign in November.

WHO said the trainings aim to enhance measles surveillance and laboratory confirmation, improve measles case management during seasonal outbreaks and achieve the minimum routine measles vaccination coverage of 95 percent.

“Based on this national vision, public health professionals in Somalia are being updated on the measles case-based surveillance process,” said Ghulam Popal, WHO Representative in Somalia, in a statement on Thursday.

The Horn of Africa nation is currently facing its worst measles outbreak in four years, with almost 19,000 suspected cases reported as of Oct. 24.

More than 80 percent of those affected by the outbreak are children under 10. Minimum routine measles vaccination coverage is only 60 percent.

In early 2017, WHO and partners, in collaboration with national health authorities, vaccinated almost 600,000 children aged 6 months to 5 years for measles in hard-to-reach and hotspot areas across the country.

“Despite these efforts, the transmission of measles continues, compounded by the ongoing pre-famine situation, continued mass displacement, and undernourished children living in unhygienic conditions,” WHO said.

The UN health agency said a nationwide campaign is planned for November to stop transmission of the disease, targeting 4.2 million children.

It said the campaign will also intensify efforts to strengthen routine immunization and reach unvaccinated children to boost their immunity.

Source: – Xinhua