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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 November 2005, 07:32 GMT
UN begins quake vaccination drive
By Farhana Haider
South Asia editor

Schoolchildren in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan
Unicef say the campaign is a race against time
The UN children's agency has started a massive campaign to immunise 800,000 children affected by last month's quake in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Unicef hopes to vaccinate the children against various potentially fatal diseases, such as polio and diphtheria, in two weeks.

It is accelerating its immunisation programme over fears for survivors in remote regions as winter approaches.

At least 73,000 people are thought to have died in the earthquake.

However, aid agencies have placed the figure much higher, at more then 87,000.

The UN has estimated that at least 17,000 children died in the quake.

It has warned of a second wave of deaths if children do not quickly get health care, clean water and immunisations.

Winter snows

Unicef plans to despatch about 600 teams into towns and mountain villages to administer vaccines for measles, polio, diphtheria and tetanus.

It will also be handing out vitamin A tablets, as many children are struggling to get enough food.

The agency aims to immunise 800,000 children up to the age of 15, in two weeks.

It has already immunised 300,000 children in the past month.

The senior Unicef health official in the field, Dr Tamur Mueenuddin, said it was a race against time to reach children from scattered communities in areas high up in the mountains as winter snows begin to fall.

Dr Mueenuddin said the vaccination teams would be flown to these high altitude areas by the Pakistani authorities.


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