Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF) will conduct an immunization campaign for all migrant children aged under 16 on Lesbos from Thursday through Saturday this week, in collaboration with the Greek health ministry, the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (HCDCP), and Médecins du Monde (MDM).
MSF also released a statement urging the Greek health ministry to set up routine vaccinations for all refugee children across Greece.
Children vulnerable to diseases
Due to the terrible living conditions, including the lack of basic sanitation, severe overcrowding, and extremely limited access to healthcare, coupled with the forthcoming winter, migrant children living in Greece are extremely vulnerable to diseases, MSF said.
"The conditions in the camps are completely unacceptable and as a result, children are at a greater risk of getting seriously ill'', said Declan Barry, the medical coordinator for MSF in Greece. "With winter approaching, it is essential that all refugee children, who are susceptible to infections, are comprehensively vaccinated," he added. "It is every child's right."
Vaccinations in Samos in December
Since the beginning of the year, MSF has vaccinated 476 children at Vial camp on the island of Chios and 1,300 children in Moria on Lesbos against mumps, measles and rubella (MMR), in collaboration with the health ministry. In addition, MSF personnel vaccinated over 200 children for MMR since August at the reception center of Fylakio, Evros, near the border with Turkey.
MSF said it will continue its vaccination campaign for all children on the island of Samos in early December.
On Lesbos and Chios, MSF teams treat hundreds of children every day with upper-respiratory tract infections, skin infections, and diarrhea, as well as mental health issues, the organization said. "These issues are all consequences of the unacceptable living conditions in the camp, as well as a lack of access to decent food and healthcare," the organization noted. "It is absolutely vital that the ministry of health urgently delivers on its promise to increase its medical capacity across all migrant and refugee camps in Greece, in order to provide much-needed healthcare for traumatized and vulnerable people," Barry said.