LUANDA-GENEVA 23 June 2003 – Just 15 months after a cease-fire ended three decades of devastating civil war, Angola has taken two significant steps on its long road to recovery. Campaigns in health and education, backed by UNICEF and supported by all levels of Government, are proving vital in restarting the development of social services in Angola.
Final figures for the National Measles Campaign, which ended on May 31, record that 7.1million Angolan children were vaccinated (92% of the population aged 9months-15years). Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has just announced $40million for 29,000 new teachers. This equates to one million more school places for children in the 2004 school year, and will be a 90 per cent increase in the number of grade 1 to 4 children in Angolan schools.
‘Development in services to fight child mortality are critical if Angolans are to recover from the ruinous results of war,’ said UNICEF Representative Mario Ferrari. ‘These campaigns are only first steps but they are fundamental in kick-starting the system, shaping policy and energising the administrative machine. UNICEF’s partnership with the Government, in promoting and supporting the implementation of public policies while advocating for higher commitment for the social sectors, is getting stronger by the day and as a result the children of Angola are benefiting.’
‘Nonetheless,’ continued Ferrari, ‘this remains a decisive time in Angola with much to do. Social services were basically wiped out here, hundreds of thousands of Angolans are returning home, and many challenges remain in achieving universal education and routine immunization.’ It is estimated that 5000 schools and 60 per cent of all hospitals were destroyed during Angola’s civil war, 45 per cent of Angola’s children suffer from chronic malnutrition, only 27 percent of one-year-old children are fully immunized against preventable diseases, and 45 percent of Angolan children do not go to school.
As such 2003 is a critical year for this sub-Saharan nation. UN agencies and development bodies such as the World Bank agree that investment in Angola now, coupled with effective partnerships, will yield rewards for Angolans.
The most recent partnership – between Angola’s Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF – culminated in the National Measles Campaign, Angola’s most successful-ever health drive. Measles is a highly contagious disease that kills more young Angolans than any other preventable ailment. Post campaign, UNICEF estimates that 70,000 child lives and $16.8million in medical costs will now be saved. The campaign was made possible due to the mobilization of 35,000 people, together with support from NGOs and the church. The major contributor was CIDA, providing almost $4million. Other important partners were the EU, USAID, Norway and the German and Dutch National Committees.
Meanwhile, ‘Back to School’, the country’s biggest-ever education campaign, underlines the fact that education is being unswervingly endorsed as the engine to drive Angola’s long-term recovery. A UNICEF and Ministry of Education collaboration, ‘Back to School’ initially benefited 500,000 Angolan children. Its success has resulted in the Government of Angola announcing funds for a further 29,000 teachers across the country. ‘These new teachers represent real progress toward our goal of universal education in Angola,’ said Ferrari. ‘What happens to children determines not only their future, but that of the entire Angolan society. One of the key benefits from Back to School is that it helps reintroduce normalcy into Angola. Schools stabilize entire communities, enabling children to feel calm and confident and providing people with familiarity. As such schools are an essential part of Angola’s healing process.
‘These achievements are the true peace dividend for Angolans,’ continued Ferrari. ‘It is important for the donor community to realise that their generosity has reaped real results in Angola and with continued attention will continue to do so.’
For further information, please contact:
Patricia Cervantes, Head of Information UNICEF Angola, (244) 91-501 943
James Elder, Communications Officer UNICEF Angola (244) 91 - 219 524
Jose Lois Mendonca Information Officer UNICEF Angola (244) 91- 233 468