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Preventing measles in tsunami victims

India has now allowed UNICEF to help mount a campaign to prevent an outbreak of measles and blindness among children.

Preventing measles in tsunami victims

India has allowed UNICEF to help mount a campaign in the battered Andaman and Nicobar islands to prevent an outbreak of measles and blindness among children. It is the first international aid agency allowed into restricted islands in the chain, closer to Myanmar and Indonesia than the Indian mainland and home to primitive tribes with almost no contact with the outside world. Indian doctors from UNICEF have visited the islands of Little Andaman, Car Nicobar and Nancowry, where access is tightly controlled, to inoculate thousands of children against measles, and hand out vitamin A tablets. New Delhi also has a strong military presence on the strategic islands, which straddle vital shipping lanes. The Andaman and Nicobar islands, mainly the more southerly Nicobar group, was one of the worst hit areas of India. Aid workers are still digging out bodies from the rubble of smashed homes and huts and buried under piles of crushed trees more than two weeks after the disaster. At least 40,000 people have been forced from their homes. Health experts have said that children living in crowded camps who were either malnourished or weakened by other infections were vulnerable to measles. A single case of measles can spread more quickly in a crowded camp situation and the impact may be more severe given the fragile state of the children who have been affected by the tsunami. Children in relief camps in the island capital Port Blair and in Car Nicobar have already been inoculated against measles and there was no report of any outbreak. India's military is leading all relief and rescue work in the islands after the administration was accused of moving too slowly.
Reuters,
January 2005
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