Japanese Ambassador to Egypt visits UNICEF-supported Avian Influenza community education activities
CAIRO, 28 February 2008 – During his visit to Tamouh Village in Giza Governorate, His Excellency Kaoru Ishikawa, Ambassador of Japan to Egypt, has seen first hand today the community awareness activities implemented by the Ministry of Health and Population in cooperation with UNICEF, with the support of the Japanese Government, to disseminate avian influenza related messages to rural communities in Egypt.
Giza Governorate is one of 17 Governorates in which this joint project is being implemented to prevent the outbreak of Avian Influenza in Egypt where the first case was confirmed in February 2006. To date, there have been 44 human cases confirmed, of which 19 have died, making Egypt the third most affected country in the world by H5N1 infection in humans.
“UNICEF works at the community level to support the Government’s national plan” said Dr. Erma Manoncourt, UNICEF Egypt Representative. “The most important thing is for people to be aware of the risks of this disease, how it is contracted, and then to know what to do about it” added Dr. Manoncourt.
As more than 90% of poultry infection cases have occurred in households, the community education campaign led by the Ministry of Health and Population- with UNICEF support- delivers messages to families on how to protect themselves against the disease, and is implemented by the Ministry of Health’s cadre of community health workers. This is community outreach that aims to raise public awareness and change behaviour of families who raise poultry through house-to-house visits and community education.
Today, Ambassador Ishikawa was briefed by the Ministry of Health and Population about the project’s various activities and attended an awareness session targeting women, an activity also regularly conducted by the community health workers at the local health clinic, besides their house visits.
Addressing participants at the awareness session, the Japanese Ambassador said, “In my country, they say that the mother brings knowledge to the household. When the house is well governed, the village is in turn well governed, and ultimately the nation is well governed. Therefore I am happy that you are all attending this meeting to learn about avian influenza”.
“As most of the human cases of infection were among women, we believe that focusing on educating women will help combat this disease” said Dr. Fathy Saad, Governor of Giza. “Community health workers are originally from the village where they serve, therefore they are trusted by the people and welcomed in their houses. They are trained on how to deal with people, and take on the responsibility of creating awareness in their community” added Governor El Said.
Since 2006, the Japanese Government has donated $49 million to support UNICEF globally in combating Avian Influenza in Asia and Africa. In the second allotment of this contribution, which amounted to $13 million, almost $ 1million was allocated to support Egypt’s efforts. Through this project in Egypt, more than eleven thousand community health workers have been trained on effective communication and equipped with key preventive messages on avian influenza safe practices in dealing with poultry. The community education campaign is also strengthened by a social marketing campaign including messages on street walls, banners, handouts and vehicles equipped with plasma screens traveling from village to village.
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