The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have warned of the acute shortage of vaccines for children in Libya, pointing out that many vaccination centres in the country were forced to close due to the lack of personal protective equipment for health workers.

‘There has been an alarming decline in the number of children receiving life-saving vaccines globally. In Libya, this decline is a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to the closure of international borders, movement restrictions, and delays procuring and distributing vaccines,’ said a press release by UNICEF and WHO.

‘A recent assessment of 200 of Libya's 700 vaccine sites, carried out by the National Centre of Disease Control with the support of UNICEF and WHO, showed that all 200 sites had stockouts of BCG vaccine and extremely limited quantities of hexavalent vaccine. BCG vaccine protects children against tuberculosis (TB), the world's top infectious killer. Hexavalent vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis, haemophilus B and hepatitis B. The assessment also showed that polio and measles vaccines were expected to run out by the end of the year. Unless urgent measures are taken to replace these vaccines, the diseases they prevent are likely to spread quickly, with dire consequences.’

UNICEF and WHO have urged the national authorities to secure the immediate release of funds to replenish the country's vaccine supply.

‘Vaccines are one of the most critical public health interventions globally. Immunization protects children against serious vaccine-preventable diseases and reduces childhood mortality,’ said Elizabeth Hoff, WHO Representative in Libya. (QNA)

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