Zambia, 17 July 2010: Launch of the national Child Health Week and measles campaign
The target for the National Measles campaign in Zambia is to reach 1,620,914 children aged between 9 – 47 months in all districts with the exception of Lusaka. In Lusaka all children aged between 6 – 59 months have been targeted due to the ongoing measles outbreak.
Speaking at the Launch, Honorable Minister of Health, Mr. Kapembwa Simbao commended WHO, UNICEF and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for their continued and timely support as Zambia faces a measles outbreak.
“During this campaign, we have received financial and material resources from external and internal partners and I wish to especially commend UNICEF, WHO and CIDA for their support,” he said.
Mr. Simbao further alerted the nation about the current measles outbreak in Zambia.
“Zambia is currently experiencing a measles outbreak and measles is among the world’s most contagious diseases, which can cause severe complications such as pneumonia, diarrhea and encephalitis, among others, and death. It can easily spread through coughing and sneezing,” he said.
As of 24 June 2010, Zambia had recorded 2,832 cases and 78 deaths countrywide. Outbreaks have been confirmed in Lusaka, Lundazi, Chama, Nyimba, Petauke and Chibombo districts. Lusaka district has recorded the highest number of cases and deaths at 2,453 and 76 respectively. Other countries in the sub-region are also reporting out breaks.
UNICEF Representative (O.I.C), Mr. Charles Lolika pledged to continue supporting the Government of Zambia with such life saving interventions.
“I would like to commend the Ministry of Health for their efforts to improve and save the lives of children in Zambia. Let me also reiterate UNICEF’s continued commitment to working with the Government of the Republic of Zambia and the Ministry of Health in particular,” he said.
Zambia’s child mortality rate has improved in recent years, but is still worryingly high. Also crucial is to bring down dramatically the maternal mortality ratio. Child Health Weeks are major factors in helping the Government of Zambia achieve progress in these areas.
To reach MDG 4 and 5 targets, the challenge is to strengthen routine services and to improve access to these services by women and children. The Ministry of Health uses Child Health Weeks to supplement routine health services and ensure that mothers and children who have missed out before will get a second opportunity.
Child Health Weeks enable the delivery of a package of high-impact, low-cost child survival interventions. Over the course of the week, children, especially those in rural areas, will receive immunizations including measles and polio, deworming medicines and Vitamin A. The current campaign also includes polio immunization in 30 high risk districts – mainly those bordering Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mothers will also be counseled on key household practices like breast-feeding and basic hygiene.
This year’s Child Health Week and Measles Campaign has been supported by CIDA through their local office using UNICEF as the fund manager. Other resources came through UNICEF from the United Nations Foundation (UNF). However, not all planned resources were available but despite that, the campaign will still take place.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
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