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BEIRUT, April 20: United Nations UNICEF warned on Wednesday the ripple effects of the global economic situation – with heightened prices and increased inflation – are exacerbating Lebanon’s calamitous crisis, with grave consequences for children’s health. This came in UNICEF’s report released to coincide with World Immunization Week (WIW), in which it said that this will cause more disruptions in the health sector, already beset by a major exodus of medical professionals, a hiring freeze by health facilities and limitations on imports of medications and equipment that have seriously affected the quality of healthcare for women and children.
The report, (A worsening health crisis for children), points out the critical drop in vaccination rates has left children vulnerable to potentially deadly diseases such as measles, diphtheria and pneumonia. Routine vaccination of children has dropped by 31 percent when rates already were worryingly low, creating a large pool of unprotected children vulnerable to disease and its impact. Keeping the cold chain for vaccines running is critical and the rising fuel prices pose new threats to essential services, such as vaccine delivery, despite efforts to rapidly increase the use of solar power.
UNICEF Representative Ettie Higgins said, “with 80 per cent of the population living in poverty, many families cannot even afford the cost of transportation to take their children to a health care center, and many are no longer able to provide the food and nutrition their children need to survive and thrive.” “With the compound crisis showing no sign of abating, concerted action is critical to prioritize children’s health. Lebanon cannot afford children to be in poor health and nutritionally deprived”, Higgins said. “UNICEF reinforces its call to the Lebanese government and all stakeholders to scale up efforts to vaccinate all children against vaccine-preventable diseases and to improve the nutritional well-being of children and women,” she added. (KUNA)