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Colombia: ICRC supports yellow fever vaccination campaign

18-02-2004 News Release 04/20

The Colombian health services, which have been fighting a yellow fever epidemic in the north of the country since last year, have again sounded the alarm after the death of a 12-year-old boy in the department of La Guajira on 4 January.

According to the Ministry for Social Protection, 28 people have so far contracted the disease and eight of them have died.

State vaccination teams often face security problems in areas affected by the armed conflict. Since July 2003 the ICRC has therefore accompanied five teams working in the departments of Norte de Santander, Cesar and La Guajira, enabling them to give a total of 1,456 vaccinations. The organization had obtained security guarantees for the medical staff from all the armed groups present in the area.

The ICRC is pursuing contacts with the National Health Institute and the health authorities in the departments of La Guajira and Magdalena in order to arrange for its staff to accompany more State vaccination teams in their work.

The ICRC’s activities in Colombia include health programmes for people living in conflict-affected areas who frequently have no access to medical care because of shortcomings in the national health-care system and the lack of security for medical staff. Among other things, the ICRC runs mobile health units that provide primary health care for the inhabitants of Urabá Chocoano (in the northwest of the country), southern Bolívar, Montes de María and Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (in the north), and Caquetá (in the south).

 For further information, please contact:  

 Carlos Ríos, ICRC, Bogotá, tel.: ++ 57 13 13 86 30  

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