Dili, Timor-Leste, 06 May 2011 - AusAID signed an agreement to fund US$865,855 through UNICEF to support the measles outbreak response campaign of Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Health. The agreement was signed by Ali Gillies, Minister Counsellor, AusAID and UNICEF Representative Jun Kukita with Vice Minister of Health Madalena Hanjam Costa Soares as witness.
A measles outbreak has been reported by the health ministry with a total of 256 cases so far from two of the 13 districts of Timor-Leste, Dili and Ermera. Most of those reported measles cases were of children below 14 years of age. The number is particularly significant since the overall measles immunization rate is low at 68 per cent, and even lower for the older cohort of children.
The situation requires a nationwide immunization campaign to prevent the spread of measles which have a significant impact on the morbidity and mortality of Timorese children.
AusAID funds will be used to help immunize an estimated 495,000 children from 6 months to 14 years old across the country, about 43 per cent of the total population of Timor-Leste. Vitamin A will also be provided to help protect children from possible complications of measles such as diarrhea, pneumonia and eye infections. Funds will also cover the nationwide campaign to encourage parents to have their children immunized against measles.
UNICEF, WHO with other partners are assisting the Ministry of Health in its emergency response to the measles outbreak with treatment of complications like pneumonia and diarrhea along with Vitamin A supplementation for all children already affected by measles.
“It is important that all parents will have their 6 month to 14 years old children immunized to protect them from the life-threatening consequences of measles,” UNICEF Representative Jun Kukita said. “This is particularly important because more than half of Timorese children under 5 years of age suffer from under-nutrition, which makes them particularly susceptible to measles and its complications. I am very thankful that AusAID has immediately responded to the emergency situation to protect children of Timor-Leste.”
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
For more information, please contact:
Mary Ann Q. Maglipon, Chief, Communication Section, UNICEF Timor-Leste (English queries)
Antonio Gomes, Communication Officer, UNICEF Timor-Leste (Tetum queries)