Mass displacement can lead to disease outbreaks, but immunization can prevent the spread of communicable diseases

Mass displacement of people during a complex humanitarian emergency can trigger a “cascade” of risk factors for communicable disease outbreaks, including a breakdown in health services (such as disease surveillance and immunization services); over-crowding (increasing disease transmission rates); inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene; and exposure of displaced population to endemic diseases for which they have no immunity.

Rotavirus vaccine in conflict areas saves lives and is cost-effective, even with low coverage rates

A two-dose schedule of rotavirus vaccine was estimated to be cost-effective in Somalia, where more than 20 years of civil conflict have significantly damaged the health system and vaccine coverage is exceedingly low. Researchers estimate that in 2012, routine use of rotavirus vaccine, even at low coverage rates, would have averted nearly 25% of deaths due to rotavirus diarrhea in Somali children under one year of age.

Vaccine-preventable illnesses cause greatest burden of mortality for children affected by armed conflict

Children under 5 years of age bear the greatest burden of indirect conflict-associated mortality (indirect mortality results from disruption of health services including immunization, food insecurity, and high risk living conditions such as those found in refugee camps). The leading causes of child death in these circumstances include respiratory infections, diarrhea, measles, malaria, and malnutrition.

Conflict can impact health systems, compromising disease elimination goals

Conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean Region impacted health infrastructure and compromised the success of the region’s measles elimination goal. At the same time that rates of migration and displacement skyrocketed, the number of measles cases in the region doubled, from 10,072 cases in 2010 to 20,898 in 2015.