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Angola, 21 March 2011: A new door-to-door strategy to eliminate polio

© UNICEF Angola/2011/Caetano
Music band Fanfuarra Amor encourages families to vaccinate their children against polio in Angola.

By Olivio Gambo

LUANDA, Angola, 21 March 2011 – Under the sweltering day’s heat in the capital city of Luanda, a novel approach to raising polio vaccination awareness is taking place.

As he walks through Sonefe, a neighbourhood in the busy municipality of Cazenga, Nkuansamu Matadi loudly plays the trumpet. It’s his unique way of issuing a rallying call for families to vaccinate their children against polio.

Critical needs

He’s passionate about preventing the transmission of the viral disease that can affect all Angola’s children. “This is why we are always prepared to mobilize the population with music so they come out in the street where the vaccinators are,” said Mr. Matadi.

And he’s having some success. “When our band plays, people come out,” he said. “Our music moves the conscience of people and we are absolutely sure we can help in the eradication of polio in Angola.”

After almost becoming polio-free with no new cases for three consecutive years, Angola has been battling polio again since 2005.

Luanda is one of the most severely affected regions, and vaccinating children in Cazenga is critical in the fight against polio. Unfortunately, poor road conditions make it difficult to access people’s homes in the area.

New strategy

A new strategy is helping target hard-to-reach areas.  Typically vaccinators have been mobilized at municipal level. Now, local residents themselves are participating and vaccinating children in their own neighbourhoods.

© UNICEF Angola/2011/Caetano
Immunization teams face extremely poor road conditions to reach and vaccinate children against polio in Cazenga municipality, Angola.

As part of this, Mr. Matadi – who has been in music band Fanfuarra Amor for 20 years – and his 30 band members have decided to help local authorities mobilize families though music.

To guarantee that every child is vaccinated, the Government of Angola and its partners are focusing efforts on vaccinating by blocks of houses. The music rallying call is a useful tool.

“We are very happy with what the band is doing here and I am sure this will help to guarantee we reach the target of vaccinating 360,000 children in our municipality,” said Cazenga Municipal Administrator Tany Narciso.

Reaching every child

According to Angola Minister of Health José Vieira Dias Van-Dúnem the new strategy will involve the whole country in the fight against polio, placing responsibilities for vaccinations at all levels, from individual families to central government.

“We have challenges in the fight against polio, such as provision of water and sanitation services, but that is why we must all pull together to vaccinate every child in the country,” he said. “For the Government of Angola, it is an honour to know that we can count on the support of all Angolans as well as the international community in the battle against polio.”

While attending the latest polio campaign launch in Cazenga, Deputy Representative of UNICEF in Angola Amélia Russo de Sá expressed her satisfaction that a strong momentum had been sustained in reinforcing the importance of vaccinations.

“The fight against polio is an urgent priority for UNICEF’s assistance in Angola,” she said, “and we are encouraged to see that partners continue to pledge their support to end this terrible disease.”

 

 
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