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Lebanon update from the World Health Organization

Still no fuel for hospitals and health facilities: The lack of fuel remains a grave concern. Earlier this week, WHO warned that many health facilities will not be able to function if fuel isn't delivered this week.

WHO has purchased enough fuel to meet the needs of hospitals in the South for 10 days, and is ready to deliver it. However, the security situation continues to make delivery extremely difficult. Today for example, a UN convoy of 15 trucks containing humanitarian relief including medicines and health supplies, destined for Baalbek, was delayed in Zahle due to continued insecurity in Baalbek.

WHO continues to urge all sides to allow safe passage of humanitarian relief, including fuel. Without it, hospitals will be paralysed, and simply will not be able to perform life-saving operations, keep vaccines cold, or run incubators for newborns. WHO continues to monitor the urgent needs of hospitals. Hospitals report that diminishing fuel supplies are a major concern, and that in addition there are shortages of oxygen and food for patients and staff.

Immunization campaign launched: Yesterday, the Lebanese Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, along with the WHO and UNICEF, launched a measles and polio vaccination campaign in downtown Beirut. It began in Sanayeh Park, which is home to some 1000 people who have been displaced by the fighting in southern Lebanon and the southern suburbs of Beirut.

The campaign targets children living in areas such as the park, as well as those living in schools and institutions. More than 150 vaccination teams from local NGOs and the Lebanese Red Cross will canvas the city this week, and in the weeks ahead about 100,000 children across the country should be reached.

"With thousands of children displaced by the fighting and living in cramped and crowded conditions, the risk of an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease such as measles is greatly increased." says WHO Representative for Lebanon, Dr. Jaouad Mahjour.

Measles vaccine will be given to children from 9 months of age to 15 years. Oral polio vaccine will be given to children aged five months to five years old, and all will receive Vitamin A supplementation.

For more information contact:

Fadéla Chaib
Communications Officer
Telephone: +41 22 791 3228

Rana Sidani
Information officer
Telephone: +41 22 791 5573