Togo

An integrated health campaign for Togo’s children

 

Image de l'UNICEF
© UNICEF/HQ04-0830/Delvigne-Jean
Women gather to register their children during the nationwide integrated immunization campaign, in the town of Kpalime, Togo.

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By Thierry Delvigne-Jean

LOME, Togo, 8 March 2005 - Over 97 per cent of Togo’s children aged from 9 and 59 months received protection against four major childhood diseases during an unprecedented nationwide health campaign, according to a recent survey conducted by UNICEF.

Nearly one million children were reached by the campaign, held last December. UNICEF Representative Aicha Diawara Flambert says this campaign was different from previous efforts in the country, because for the first time each child received four key health interventions, all in the same place and at the same time. “It is a new approach and a real challenge, but we believe that this integrated approach will have a significant impact on reducing child deaths.”

More about the campaign

Four-year-old Afi and her mother were among the first to arrive at the Foyer Pie XII vaccination post in Lome, the capital of Togo. In less than five minutes, Afi received:

  • deworming medication to expel intestinal worms
  • two drops of polio vaccine
  • a shot to protect her against measles
  • and a long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito net (LLIN) for use every night at home, to prevent malaria.

All four services were provided free of charge.

Image de l'UNICEF
© UNICEF/HQ04-0832/Delvigne-Jean
A woman health worker prepares to give a measles vaccination to a toddler girl held by her mother, at an outdoor health post in Kpalime, Togo.

Malaria kills one child every 30 seconds – about 3000 children every day. Over one million people die from malaria each year, mostly children under five years of age, with 90 per cent of malaria cases occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many of these deaths could have been prevented had the child slept under a long-lasting insecticide-treated net.

In 2003, only 15 per cent of Togolese children under age five slept under mosquito nets, and barely two per cent slept under an LLIN. The free distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets is a big draw for parents, who often cannot afford to pay the $2-5 dollar cost of a net.

Image de l'UNICEF
© UNICEF video
Four-year-old Afi and her mother are among the first to arrive at the ‘Foyer Pie XII’ vaccination post in Lome, the capital of Togo.

To carry out the campaign, more than 4,000 volunteers and health workers were recruited across the country. Mobile teams were also deployed in order to reach children living in hard-to-reach areas. UNICEF believes that integrated campaigns like this one may become the most important step towards reducing child mortality.
 
Fundraising by UNICEF and WHO was key to the success of the campaign. The support of international partners was also essential; partners include the UN Foundation, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Red Cross, the Canadian Red Cross, the Norwegian Red Cross, the Canadian International Development Agency and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

“This is the best present for children in this country,” said Togo’s Minister of Health Suzanne Aho, at the launch of the campaign in Lome.  “But we must protect all children in Africa, not just the children of Togo. It is important for all of Africa.”


 

 

Video

8 March 2005:
UNICEF’s Thierry Delvigne-Jean reports on Togo’s unprecedented public health campaign.

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