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Stepping up efforts toÂ curtailÂ the ongoingÂ diphtheria outbreakÂ in Coxâs Bazar,Â WHOÂ andÂ UNICEF are working with Ministry of HealthÂ and Family WelfareÂ to vaccinate over 350,000 childrenÂ inÂ theÂ RohingyaÂ camps andÂ makeshiftÂ settlementsÂ with an additional dose of diphtheria vaccine.
âAn additionalÂ dose of diphtheria vaccine is expected to further boost immunity of vulnerable children and helpÂ restrictÂ diphtheria.Â
The campaign started yesterdayÂ andÂ is planned toÂ beÂ completedÂ onÂ 8Â February.
ToÂ ensure all children in the target age group are vaccinated, over 2,000 communityÂ volunteers,Â imamsÂ
âWeÂ have procuredÂ more than 400,000Â doses of diphtheria vaccines to cover theÂ RohingyaÂ children, health practitioners, volunteers and staff who are working in the camps.Â Currently, health workersÂ striveÂ to control the outbreak with antibioticsÂ and vaccines, and to provideÂ neededÂ treatment to those who are infected.Â We expect to see reduced numbersÂ of diphtheria casesÂ when the effect of the massÂ immunizationÂ drives setsÂ in,âÂ said Mr. EdouardÂ Beigbeder,Â
Earlier, over half a million children were immunizedÂ in the first diphtheria vaccination campaign held in theÂ Rohingya camps andÂ makeshiftÂ settlementsÂ in December,Â andÂ in host communitiesÂ earlier this year.Â A third diphtheria vaccination campaign is plannedÂ to startÂ four weeks after completion of the ongoing drive.Â Meanwhile, the Ministry of HealthÂ and Family Welfare,Â WHO,Â UNICEF and partners are workingÂ to establishÂ routine childhood vaccination services against life-threateningÂ diseaseÂ inÂ
So far,Â 4,800Â suspected cases of diphtheria andÂ 35Â deaths have been reported in Coxâs Bazar.Â Thirty-sevenÂ of the suspectedÂ casesÂ wereÂ inÂ host communities.Â An estimatedÂ 688,000Â RohingyasÂ
VaccinatingÂ vulnerable populationsÂ against diphtheria is oneÂ keyÂ componentÂ of the outbreak response,Â which also focusesÂ on early detection of suspected cases, providing appropriate treatment,Â and tracingÂ patientsâÂ contacts andÂ givingÂ them preventive medicationÂ and vaccine.
WHO is coordinatingÂ and supporting theÂ overall diphtheria response with the Ministry of HealthÂ and Family Welfare. WHO has provided guidelines and trainingsÂ to partners and health workers onÂ theÂ detectionÂ andÂ clinicalÂ