NEW YORK, 2 April 2004 - UNICEF today welcomed Canada’s donation of an additional 10.5 million Canadian dollars toward reducing child measles deaths in war-torn countries in Africa.
The funds are targeted at the countries where children are at a greater risk of measles because of a mosaic of emergencies including war, conflicts, natural disasters and devastated health care systems. Recipient countries include Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Mali and Niger.
Measles kills more children than any other vaccine-preventable disease – nearly 500,000 children die every year in Africa.
“Once again the Canadians have shown generosity and pragmatism in supporting one of the most results-based and cost-effective programmes in public health,” said Carol Bellamy, UNICEF executive director. “This gift will save thousands of lives.”
The donation, made through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will strengthen the efforts of the Measles Partnership for Africa. The prime goal of the partnership is to reduce measles deaths globally by 50 per cent by 2005, compared to the 1999 figures of 869,000 deaths.
Since 1998, CIDA has donated over 68 million Canadian dollars to UNICEF to combat measles. These donations were given both through the Canadian International Immunization Initiative and through donations for activities in emergency countries.
Despite these donations, UNICEF warned that a shortage of funds stands in the way of reducing measles deaths even further and urged the global community to follow the lead of Canada and the partners of the Measles Partnership for Africa and provide the necessary funds.
Mozambique is one country where a shortage of funding is preventing a full-tilt measles mortality reduction drive.
“Preventing measles deaths in emergency countries is one of UNICEF and CIDA’s shared core commitments,” said Bellamy. “I urge other countries to join the partnership to reduce measles deaths.”
More on the partnership: UNICEF is one of the major partners of the Measles Partnership for Africa, along with the World Health Organization, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies, the government of Japan, the European Union, USAID, the UN Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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