UNICEF and WHO welcome funding provided by KSrelief for prevention of measles and polio outbreaks

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF today welcome the conclusion of funding agreements for the amount of 10 million United States dollars (USD) with the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) to further strengthen polio and measles programs in eight countries. This agreement was signed on the sidelines of the World Health Summit in Berlin.

This new funding will provide UNICEF and WHO with US$5 million each after calling for urgent action to avert large outbreaks of polio and measles. WHO and UNICEF have urged countries to prioritize vaccinating children as they rebuild their immunization systems following the significant disruption caused by COVID-19 around the world. The pandemic has put millions of vulnerable children at increased risk of contracting preventable childhood diseases.

Thanks to this generous contribution from KSrelief, WHO is supporting polio and measles control programs in Somalia, Iraq and Sudan by purchasing laboratory equipment; strengthening surveillance; by providing the EPI with digital means; by strengthening the cold chain; and training vaccinators for campaigns. UNICEF is supporting five high-risk countries (Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Guinea, Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) to procure and distribute polio and measles vaccines and supplies, such as cold chain and syringes, at the national level; to recruiter and former of vaccinators; and sustainably strengthen immunization systems.

“COVID-19 has had devastating effects on immunization services around the world,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “KSrelief’s contribution enables the WHO to save children. Around 50 million people will benefit and major outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, including polio and measles, could be suppressed in Somalia, Iraq and Sudan,” he added.

“We cannot let COVID-19 lead to new outbreaks of childhood diseases,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “The pandemic has undermined routine immunization services around the world, putting millions of vulnerable children at increased risk of contracting poliomyelitis, measles and other preventable childhood diseases. This new agreement will save lives and strengthen immunization systems, benefiting millions of children,” she added.

Dr Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Director General of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), said: “This cooperation agreement has strengthened global action to protect vulnerable children at cumulative risk of contracting preventable childhood diseases. ; it also demonstrates the commitment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to saving lives and safeguarding the future. This agreement was possible thanks to the Kingdom’s commitment to cooperate with WHO and UNICEF to jointly address global health challenges,” he added.

At the World Health Summit, which brings together government, donor and civil society representatives as well as activists, UNICEF and WHO renewed their calls for urgent action to avert epidemics of measles and poliomyelitis and reaffirmed their commitment to eradicating vaccine-preventable diseases.

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