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And thousands of children could die for want of vaccination. --- Dear List, The loss of Iraq's vaccine stocks appears to be one the main reasons children in Iraq are so vulnerable to disease, according to the Iraq Unicef representative, Carel de Rooy. The Vaccine and Serum Institute of Baghdad was hit by USUK missiles. Then the electricity was cut off and the cold chain system became useless, said Mr. de Rooy. As a result, all the vaccines were spoilt and had to be destroyed. (Bombing the Institute surely is a war crime?) No Iraqi child has been immunized since March 20, according to Unicef. They were able to bring in vaccines and by June 16 immunization has begin - probably too late for many infants. About 4.2 million children under five are now at risk from polio, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles and tuberculosis. And the 210,000 babies born since the invasion have not received any vaccinations. Between May 17 and June 4, WHO reported 1,549 cases of acute water diarrhoea in Basra - many were children. I am attaching two articles (in reverse date order.) Elga Sutter ------------------ (1) <Start Fwd> http://www.ipsnews.net/print.asp?idnews=19106 IRAQ: Thousands of Children Could Die Ricardo Grassi [July 4, 2003] Disease and unexploded ammunition could kill thousands of Iraqi children unless immediate priority is given to their protection, says the UNICEF chief representative in Baghdad. ROME, Jul 4 (IPS) - Hundreds of thousands more are prone to injury, abuse and exploitation, the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) representative Carel de Rooy told IPS in a phone interview. Children below 15 years of age are nearly 12 million (44 percent) of the 27 million Iraqi population. Unexploded munitions are an immediate danger. The whole country is littered with instruments of war, even the schools, says de Rooy. Just to give you an idea, two weeks ago 1700 sites with unexploded munitions were identified only in Baghdad. We are now engaged in a campaign to prevent people, children especially, from touching munitions, he says. Munitions look attractive in their yellowish or silvery colours, so the children pick them up. In the last two weeks of April, 260 civilians were injured or killed just in the city of Kirkuk, according to an official report. More than half of them were children. This is terrible, indeed, de Rooy says. But many more children are dying of diarrhoea. Those silent deaths are much, much worse, and they do not attract much media attention. Between May 17 and June 4 the World health Organisation (WHO) reported 1,549 cases of acute water diarrhoea in Basra city. A large number of them are children. The newly born are most threatened by disease. None of the approximately 210,000 children born in Iraq in the past three months has been vaccinated against any of the diseases they are vulnerable to, de Rooy says. Given the current conditions in the country, all children are at greater risk than ever if they are not vaccinated right away. About 4.2 million children below five are now considered vulnerable to preventable diseases such as polio, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles and tuberculosis. Iraq lost all its vaccine stocks when the Vaccine and Serum Institute of Baghdad was hit by missiles, and electricity to the store room was cut. With the fall of Saddam came the breakdown of much of Iraq's health system, says de Rooy. The Ministry of Health stopped functioning, communication between the capital and the governorates snapped, and vital services like routine immunisation collapsed. Only 60 percent of the primary health care centres survived, says de Rooy. New equipment is now coming into the country and hopefully, I say hopefully, we will reactive them by the end of the year. UNICEF has repaired five out of ten huge storage refrigerators that were destroyed. It has brought 25 million doses of vaccines and is re-starting the immunisation programme in partnership with the reactivated Ministry of Health. UNICEF has raised about 90 million dollars for the programme from European countries, the European Commission, Canada, Japan, and the U.S., de Rooy says. But the intervening gap could be dangerous. Before the last war Iraq was certified polio-free, measles had been brought under control, and maternal and neonatal tetanus eliminated with the support of UNICEF and WHO. Today there are few restrictions on the spread of polio, and re-emergence could also infect people in neighbouring countries, thereby threatening the region, de Rooy says. UNICEF sees street children as a growing problem. Prior to the 1991 Gulf War, the problem simply did not exist, de Rooy says. There was a very high rate of children in the schools, and no child labour. The international economic blockage enforced that year to put pressure on Saddam Hussein took children out from school into the labour market. Poverty is pushing children into the streets, de Rooy says. They just need to make their living and bring home some dinars (the local currency) at the end of the day. Independent reports indicate that their conditions have worsened after the war launched March 20 by the United States and Britain to remove Saddam Hussein's government. Iraq is currently administrated by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) headed by a U.S. official, L. Paul Bremer. UNICEF is asking for introduction of social policies that take children back to their families and back to school as a way of protecting them from exploitation and injury. The conditions of children have been worsening steadily under the weight of economic sanctions imposed after the Gulf War of 1991, several studies show.. The U.S. State Department human rights report for 2001 stated that through the 1990s, Iraqi children below five were dying at more than twice the rate they were in the previous decade. Last year about one in 10 babies died before reaching their first birthday, says the State of the World's Mothers Report produced by the charity Save the Children. The economic sanctions empowered Saddam's regime, and weakened the population, says de Rooy. There is no question about it, he says Poverty weakens. Today one in five Iraqis suffer chronic poverty, 100 percent of the population needs food rations, and one million children under five are malnourished. (END/2003)  Copyright ) 2003 IPS-Inter Press Service. All rights reserved. <End> (2) <Start Fwd> ReliefWeb ReliefWeb Source: UNICEF Date: 16 Jun 2003 Routine immunization of children re-established across Iraq 210,000 newborns in last 90 days, all vulnerable to preventable diseases BAGHDAD, 16 June 2003 -- With support from UNICEF, the Iraqi Ministry of Health has begun the process of immunizing the country's 4.2 million children under the age of five against preventable diseases such as polio, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles and tuberculosis. The World Health Organization is also contributing to the reactivation of the Iraq's Expanded Programme of Immunization by re-establishing the country's vital disease surveillance system. According to UNICEF, no child in Iraq has been routinely immunized since the start of military action on 20 March 2003. "In the past three months, approximately 210,000 children have been born in Iraq," said Carel de Rooy, UNICEF's Representative in Iraq. "Not one of these children has been vaccinated against the myriad of deadly and debilitating diseases young children are susceptible to." "Parents know how important these immunizations are to their newborn and young children. An infant's immune system is very fragile and vulnerable to contracting disease without these vaccines, and given the current conditions in the country, children are at greater risk than ever if they are not vaccinated right away," added de Rooy. With the fall of the former regime came the breakdown of much of Iraq's health system. The Ministry of Health stopped functioning, communication between the capital and the governorates became impossible and vital services like routine immunization collapsed leaving children vulnerable to disease. The war also affected the country's store of vaccines. The country's vaccines were kept in a building at the Vaccine and Serum Institute of Baghdad. The institute was struck by missiles during the war and all electricity to the store room was cut. "When the electricity went down, the cold chain system for preserving vaccines was rendered useless," said de Rooy. "More damage was caused when looters tore apart wiring, compressors and circuit boards at the institute making immediate emergency repairs to the cold chain impossible. In the end, all vaccine stocks were spoiled and had to be destroyed," he added. To overcome this situation, UNICEF has been bringing millions of doses of vaccines into Iraq to restart the country's routine immunization programme in partnership with the reactivated Ministry of Health. The 25 million doses of vaccines were purchased through a $3.2 million grant from USAID. UNICEF has also been working with health officials to repair Iraq's cold chain system so that the vaccines that are brought in can be properly stored. The $1.85 million rehabilitation project was covered by funds from DFID (United Kingdom). "UNICEF and the Ministry of Health have been focusing our health initiatives on re-establishing the country's routine immunization system. It is our main priority for protecting the health of Iraqi children," said de Rooy. "The size and importance of this endeavour can not be underestimated, and we are extremely pleased that immunization will begin across Iraq today." With support from UNICEF and WHO, Iraq has been certified polio-free, measles has been brought under control, and maternal and neonatal tetanus eliminated. However, according to UNICEF all of these gains would be lost if routine immunization were not restarted quickly. The re-emergence of polio in Iraq would also risk transmission to neighbouring countries, thereby threatening the region. For further information on UNICEF, visit its website at http://www.unicef.org/ http://www.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf/c7ca0eaf6c79faae852567af003c69ca/05f1456f91 685bd349256d47000ef623?OpenDocument <End> _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk