Tripoli (AFP) – Libya is set to launch a campaign overseen by the World Health Organization to vaccinate more than 2.7 million children after months of shortages, the health ministry said Wednesday.
The “national immunisation campaign”, organised with the United Nations children fund UNICEF, is expected to begin on Saturday, Libya’s WHO representative Jaafar Hassan told a press conference.
The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has faced major difficulties with its vaccine supply, over which the state has a monopoly.
Nearly a year’s worth of vaccine shortages have pushed many Libyan parents with newborns to travel to other countries or to import drugs themselves.
“Three months ago, Libya filed an application with international organisations to help them cope with a serious shortage of vaccines,” said Badereddine al-Najjar, head of the National Center for Disease Control.
“The answer… was quick,” he said, adding that Germany had financed the vaccines.
UNICEF has also played a role in importing and distributing vaccines, he added.
Najjar said his team has suggested the GNA “set aside an independent budget for the next three years” to avert another vaccine crisis.
Libya fell into chaos following the NATO-backed uprising that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, with two rival authorities and a multitude of militias still vying for control of the oil-rich country.