Child health compromised due to Ebola crisis in Liberia: UNICEF

Geneva: The outbreak of Ebola virus disease has severely disrupted health services for children in Liberia, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned Friday as efforts were intensified to halt the spread of the deadly disease.

Sheldon Yett, UNICEF's representative in Liberia, stressed that child mortality in this African country has significantly slumped over the past decade, but now "Ebola is threatening to wipe out all those hard-earned gains for children and for Liberia", Xinhua reported.

Almost all health facilities in Liberia are closed or only partially functional, and children are not receiving protective vaccinations or being treated for the common childhood illnesses that account for the majority of deaths in children under five years of age, including malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, and severe acute malnutrition.

UNICEF deplored that there were children dying from measles and other vaccine preventable diseases in this country and pregnant women had few places to deliver their babies safely.

In addition to providing supports to fight against Ebola, the UN agency said that to date it has flown to Liberia nearly 248 metric tonnes of supplies which included personal protection equipment, hygiene kits, chlorine, oral rehydration salts for the treatment of diarrhoea and other emergency health supplies.

UNICEF also trained up psycho-social workers and was working to restore essential maternal and child health services, including for children suffering from malnutrition.

As primary and secondary schools in the country were closed, affecting over 1.5 million children, UNICEF was working with Liberian education authorities and other partners to ensure children could continue their formal education even when they were not attending school.

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