WHO, Unicef and health sector partners are working with Bangladesh government to vaccinate over 475,000 children in Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
UNICEF on Sunday said, as many as 31 deaths and 3,954 suspected cases of diphtheria have been reported from Cox’s Bazar between November 8, 2017 and January 11.
Nearly 10,594 contacts of these suspected cases have been put on diphtheria preventive medication.
“All efforts are being made to stop the spread of diphtheria further. The vaccination of children in the Rohingya camps and nearby areas demonstrates the health sector’s commitment to protecting people, particularly children, against deadly diseases,” said Dr Bardan Jung Rana, a WHO Representative to Bangladesh.
Nearly 150,000 children, aged six weeks to seven years, received pentavalent vaccine (that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, haemophilus influenza type b and hepatitis), and nearly 166,000 children, aged 7 to 17 years, were given tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine, during a three-week vaccination campaign that ended on December 31.
Two more rounds of vaccination with a diphtheria-containing vaccine, at intervals of one month, are planned to fully protect the children in camps and surrounding areas.
To limit the spread of diphtheria to communities living near the Rohingya camps and settlements, nearly 160,000 children in 499 schools of Teknaf and Ukhiya sub-districts are also being vaccinated. This initiative began on January 1 last.
WHO, Unicef and other health partners are working with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to establish fixed locations for immunisation in the Rohingya camps to continue to provide lifesaving vaccines to children, in line with Bangladesh’s childhood immunisation program.
WHO has released US$1.5 million from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies over the next six months to scale up the response to diphtheria among the Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar.