Madagascar

UNICEF ambassadors help out during Madagascar’s Mother and Child Health Week

UNICEF Image: Madagascar, Mother and Child Health Week
© UNICEF Madagascar/2007
Madagascar’s Mother and Child Health Week reached out to women and their children with a life-saving health-care package including vaccinations, vitamin A supplements, de-worming tablets and treated mosquito nets.

By Susanna Mullard

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar, 7 November 2007 – Late last month, Madagascar held its third national Mother and Child Health Week with the goal of providing more than 4 million mothers and children with life-saving health care.

In the course of one week at the end of October, some 59,000 health workers, community health agents and social mobilizers travelled to virtually every village in the country, offering valuable health-care packages at more than 8,500 sites.

The package included vitamin A supplements, measles vaccinations and de-worming tablets for children under the age of five, new mothers and pregnant women. More than 1.5 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets were distributed as well.

Also during the week, pregnant women had the opportunity to be tested for HIV to ensure prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the disease.

UNICEF Image: Madagascar, Mother and Child Health Week
© UNICEF Madagascar/2007
South African singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Eastern and Southern and Africa Yvonne Chaka Chaka marks the hand of a young child who has received an insecticide-treated bednet during Madagascar’s Mother and Child Health Week.

Celebrities on hand

Two international celebrities travelled to Madagascar to highlight the importance of Mother and Child Health Week.

South African singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Eastern and Southern Africa Yvonne Chaka Chaka – who is also UNICEF’s regional spokesperson on malaria – helped distribute insecticide-treated bednets and encouraged women to use them to protect their babies from malaria.

UNICEF France special representative Laeticia Hallyday was also on hand to promote tetanus vaccinations for women of child-bearing age.

“There are many mothers who never had access to school, who are illiterate and living in very basic conditions. It is necessary to go and find them. They shouldn’t be forgotten,” Ms. Hallyday said.

‘An unnecessary tragedy’

Sixty per cent of the population in Madagascar lives more than 5 km away from the nearest health centre – and as a result, they are often unable to get the care they need. Furthermore, people here are often unaware of the life-saving interventions offered by health facilities.

UNICEF Image: Madagascar, Mother and Child Health Week
© UNICEF Madagascar/2007
UNICEF France special representative Laeticia Hallyday takes part in Madagascar’s third Mother and Child Health Week, which aimed to provide health services for 4 million women and children.

UNICEF Representative in Madagascar Bruno Maes commended the Government of Madagascar on its leadership in addressing this situation through Mother and Child Health Weeks and other efforts. He noted that 40,000 additional children under the age of five are surviving each year in Madagascar.

“Together we have to build on this, and focus on the 60,000 under-fives who continue to die from diseases that can not only be treated, but also prevented,” Mr. Maes said. “As we all know, this is an unnecessary tragedy, but one that we can tackle together.”

Achieving the MDGs

Since October 2006, the government has promoted Mother and Child Health Weeks as a strategy to reach out to the most isolated areas of Madagascar.

The health weeks take place every six months. Meanwhile, the Millennium Development Goals calling for a reduction in maternal mortality by three-quarters and infant mortality by two-thirds in less than a decade from now.

With the support of its many partners, the Malagasy Government aims to reach at least 80 per cent of all women and children through Mother and Child Health Weeks in order to achieve the MDGs via a series of high-impact, low-cost health interventions.


 

 

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October 2007:
UNICEF’s Susanna Mullard reports on the involvement of Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Laeticia Hallyday in Madagascar’s Mother and Child Health Week.
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Watch UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Eastern and Southern Africa Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s public service announcement on malaria.
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