Urgent vaccination drive in Gaza targets childhood diseases

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Thousands of childhood disease vaccines arrive in Gaza as the health crisis worsens, announces the Palestinian health ministry.

RAMALLAH, Jan 1: Amidst a growing health crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip, thousands of vaccine doses targeting childhood diseases such as polio and measles have begun to arrive, according to the Palestinian health ministry’s announcement on Monday. Israel’s ongoing ground offensive has disrupted regular health services in Gaza, impacting crucial vaccinations that were effectively managed through mass immunization programs.

The ministry reported that supplies, expected to cover vaccinations for an estimated 8 to 14 months, entered Gaza via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, facilitated by Egyptian government cold storage facilities. Israel, recognizing the urgency, pledged on Friday to assist in facilitating the entry of vaccines to combat the spread of disease.

Yasser Bouzia, the head of international relations in the health ministry in Ramallah, highlighted the challenging circumstances, noting that an estimated 60,000 newborns in Gaza, who would typically receive vaccinations, are now largely cut off from medical services. Administering vaccines poses additional difficulties due to the displacement of Gaza’s population, with hundreds of thousands living in temporary accommodations like tents.

The vaccines, covering diseases such as rubella, polio, measles, and mumps, originate from supplies procured by the ministry. The initiative seeks to address the pressing health needs of the population in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing crisis.

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