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UAE Red Crescent to provide polio vaccines for Gaza children

posted on 11/02/2008: 633 views

The United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Authority (RCA) is providing almost half a million polio vaccines for children in Gaza as an initial tranche of support to health and education to Palestinian children.

"Palestinian children are unwilling casualties of a health system under extreme duress,” said Dr. Saleh Al Taei, the RCA Secretary-General. "This supply of polio vaccines is an important part of a wide range of interventions that are critically needed to protect children in Gaza from preventable disease, disability and death.”

Gaza has been virtually sealed off since June. The economy has collapsed and even the basics - medicine, food, fuel are lacking. More than half (56%) of Gaza's 1.4 million residents are children, a press release issued by United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Sunday. The UAE support will provide some 98,000 children with at least four doses each of the polio vaccine during routine immunization programmes across Gaza as part of a drive to certify occupied Palestinian territory oPt polio-free by the end of 2008.

Although there have been no reported cases of the wild poliovirus in Gaza and the West Bank for years, it is crucial to ensure that there is no re-emergence of the disease. To be certified as polio-free, oPt must supply evidence consistent with the absence of indigenous wild poliovirus for a period of at least three years, under conditions of high-quality surveillance.

UNICEF welcomed the UAE contribution as an important step towards strengthening partnerships for children in the region. "We look forward to expanding our cooperation to other areas that affect Palestinian children's survival and quality of life," said Patricia McPhillips, UNICEF Special Representative in oPt.

UNICEF's programme of assistance in Gaza works to prevent, and where possible, reverse declines in child well-being. Major areas of work include procuring all vaccines for children; building and rehabilitating water and sanitation systems in schools, health clinics and marginalized communities; providing psychosocial support to children and families in need; capacity building for teachers and health workers; and delivering medical and other relief items. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


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