By Nathan Morley
According to UNICEF and WHO vaccine shortages in Libya are putting more than a quarter of a million children at severe risk. In a joint press release, they say situation is made worse by the continued armed conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the pandemic, access to immunization services have been disrupted since March – a situation that has led to an increased risk of a resurgence of measles and polio.
There are other problems too. Health care services, which have been disrupted, combined with frequent power outages, a shortage of safe water supplies and the closure of schools has compounded the situation.
The WHO says there are acute shortages of the vaccine hexa-valent, which protects against six diseases, including diphtheria and tetanus. Similarly, a polio vaccine which is administered at birth and at nine months of age is in critically short supply.
The main concern is that many migrant, refugee or internally displaced children may not have received their basic vaccination doses in their country of origin or may have missed the required doses in Libya.
Procurement orders for essential vaccines have been delayed because of lengthy governmental approval processes.
In an effort to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, Libyan authorities have imposed a curfew, banned public gatherings and intercity travel, and closed borders.
Earlier this month the Foreign Ministry of Libya's UN-backed government received anti-coronavirus supplies from Turkey, including masks, goggles, protective clothing, sterilizers and disinfectants.