Health

Deadly childhood diseases on increase in Tigray

Supreme Desk
20 Sep 2022 1:07 PM GMT
Deadly childhood diseases on increase in Tigray
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The experts in a report said that they had reasonable grounds to believe that the denial of access to healthcare and other aid by federal authorities amounted to a crime against humanity.

Doctors and regional health officials on Tuesday reported that deadly diseases such as measles, tetanus and whooping cough are on the rise in Ethiopia's Tigray region.

The health officials said the region witnessed an increase after vaccination rates dropped during the civil war that broke out nearly two years ago.

According to data from the Tigray Health Bureau, the percentage of children in Tigray receiving routine vaccines has fallen below 10 per cent this year undoing years of government efforts to boost immunisation rates.

"The hopes of the children in the region to grow healthier and happier were snatched away in a blink of an eye," the bureau said in a letter this month to the global vaccine alliance Gavi.

The letter, seen by Reuters, blamed the decline in vaccination on supply shortages caused by what it called a "siege" of Tigray by Ethiopian federal forces, power outages that have disrupted vaccine cold chains.

U.N. commission of human rights experts said on Monday that a ceasefire between March and August, between Tigrayan and federal forces allowed in a trickle of medical aid but humanitarian access had been suspended since fighting resumed.

The experts in a report said that they had reasonable grounds to believe that the denial of access to healthcare and other aid by federal authorities amounted to a crime against humanity.

Ethiopian government spokesperson, Legesse Tulu, military spokesperson Colonel Getnet Adane and the prime minister's spokesperson Billene Seyoum did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the U.N. report.

The government had repeatedly denied blocking aid saying the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the party leading regional government, was responsible for the conflict, which had killed thousands of civilians.

Health Minister Lia Tadesse said vaccines had been provided to Tigray this year and that more were ready to be delivered once conditions allowed.

The Tigray Health Bureau said the percentage of children receiving the full three doses vaccines had dropped drastically.

It said children who received Pentavalent vaccine against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) dropped from 99.3 per cent in 2020 to 36 per cent in 2021 and 7 per cent this year.

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