Program aims to rapidly expand routine immunisation in Angola within three months
LUANDA/New York, 22 SEPTEMBER 2003 – In an audacious move to reduce Angola’s child mortality, the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and WHO have launched a program to fast-track the implementation of routine immunisation across Angola.
The decision will require a massive scaling-up of health services and training over the next three months, with the goal to reach and maintain routine immunisation to 75percent of Angolan children under one year of age in three-quarters of the country by December.
“This program is a clear sign of just how serious the Angolan Government and UN agencies are about routine immunisation,” said UNICEF Angola Representative Mario Ferrari. “A December deadline is a considerable challenge, but right now Angola needs to set and rise to such challenges.”
Together with malaria prevention, oral rehydration therapy, and the treatment of acute respiratory infections, routine immunisation has the ability to drastically reduce child mortality in Angola. The country currently has one of the world’s highest child mortality rates, with one child in four dieing before their fifth birthday.
Fifty-nine municipalities have been selected for the immunisation drive, representing 75percent of Angola’s population. The other municipalities will follow next year. In order to sustain this initiative, it is necessary to mobilise technical and financial resources.
“This decision to accelerate the implementation of routine vaccination is both clear and courageous,” said WHO Angola Representative Dr Paolo Balladelli. “We have made sound progress in boosting immunisation across Angola. Routine immunisation boosts efficiency and saves lives and money. As such, this announcement underlines the common commitment of Government, WHO and UNICEF to rebuild and benefit millions of Angolan children, and quickly.”
Part one of the strategy is Angola’s biggest-ever workshop on routine immunisation. Around 100 of Angola’s top local leaders are currently being instructed in Luanda in everything from safe syringe disposal to inter-personal communication and vaccine conservation. The workshop will consolidate achievements made by the national measles campaign and a string of polio national immunisation days.
“Make no mistake,” said WHO’s Balladelli, “routine vaccination is essential for the redevelopment of Angola’s health facilities, and this training is a critical first step in creating conditions that will enable it to happen.”
The health professionals are being trained in three specific areas: Firstly, in vaccine handling, conservation, administration and the safe disposal of needles and syringes. Secondly in interpersonal communication skills so that health workers can encourage mothers and carers to utilise routine immunisation. And thirdly in micro-planning involving strategies to improve access and outreach activities, so that, for example, mobile teams can reach peri-urban and rural populations.
Because of Angola’s damaged infrastructure and weak capacity, UNICEF and WHO have relied on national immunisation campaigns. However, the objective of WHO and UNICEF is to shift more and more to routine vaccination. “The launching of this bold plan is an indication of Angolans’ resolve to reduce their fearsome child mortality numbers and expand preventative care to populations returning to normal life,” said Ferrari.
For further information, please contact:
James Elder, Communications Officer
UNICEF Angola (244) 91 - 219 524
Jose Lois Mendonca Information Officer
UNICEF Angola (244) 91- 233 468
Jose Caetano WHO Public Information Officer