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Avian Influenza Community Education Mid-term Results Show Promising Improvement in Critical Breeding Practices

© UNICEF Egypt/Akl/2008
Mrs. Karima Moukhtar receiving a plaque for her contribution in the Avian Influenza education video from Dr. Nasr El Sayed First Under Secretary of the MOHP and Dr. Erma Manoncourt, UNICEF Representative

CAIRO, 30 July 2008—Mid-term results of a joint Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP)-UNICEF Avian Influenza intervention programme show positive change towards more sound poultry breeding practices in targeted areas.

The results of the Avian Influenza Intervention Community Education Programme were presented today in a seminar which also featured the first screening of an Avian Influenza educational video starring veteran actress Karima Moukhtar. The video is designed to disseminate the key messages of the programme, informing families on how to avoid infection. It will be widely shown at health centers and during family awareness campaigns across the country.

Initiated in August 2007 and sponsored by the Government of Japan, the community-based programme has been implemented in Egypt’s 17 most highly-affected governorates, encourages correct poultry breeding practices such as washing hands with soap after handling poultry, separating poultry from living areas and keeping children away from poultry.

Over the past months, there have been positive changes towards a stricter observance of these practices among the targeted population of over 4.8 million households. Washing hands with soap jumped from 36% at the baseline to 56%, separating poultry from living areas increased from 64% to 74% and keeping children away from poultry improved from 45% to 55%.

“We’ve been collaborating with the MOHP to address an issue of national concern,” said Dr. Erma Manoncourt, UNICEF Egypt Representative. “Once people get proper education and accurate information, at-risk groups can be transformed into positive forces contributing to the containment of the disease.”

More than 10,000 community health workers (Raidat Refiyat) were trained and deployed to lead a house-to-house education campaign in the governorates of Giza, Beheira, Dakahlia, Sharkia, Fayoum, Kafr El Sheikh, Menofeya, Gharbia, Damietta, Qualiubia, Menia, Qena, Aswan, Sohag, Beni Suief, Assiut and Luxor.

During the house-to-house visits, the Raidat used a package of interactive educational materials, including an illustrated flip chart, to educate women on how to prevent infection among birds and humans.

Parallel to the house visits, an outdoor community awareness campaign including more than 2,750 street banners, 210 outdoor walls and over 420 hours of educational road shows was carried out in all 17 governorates.

“This is not the first time that we’ve collaborated with UNICEF on a successful health project, the most important of which was the polio eradication campaign,” said Dr. Nasr El Sayed, First Under Secretary and Head of Primary Care at the Preventive Affairs and Family Planning Sector of the MOHP. “We hope we are just as successful at eradicating Avian Influenza, and that is what we are all striving for.”

In the upcoming period an estimated 3.7 million school children will be benefiting from a school-based Avian Influenza educational intervention aimed at educating children on how to minimize their risk of infection. The programme will be implemented in collaboration with the Egyptian Red Crescent and the Ministry of Education.

Affecting more than 800 poultry farms, Avian Influenza was first confirmed in Egypt in February 2006.  To date, there were 50 human cases, of which 22 have died. With women and children forming the highest numbers of infected cases, Egypt ranks third highest among countries affected by the disease.

For more information contact:
Hala Abu-Khatwa, UNICEF Egypt, Chief of Communication,
Tel: +202 2526 5083 through 5087 (ext 212)

UNICEF is on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.




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