ANTANANARIVO, 20 August 2004 – In the weeks preceding the official launch of the measles campaign in Madagascar, which targets 7.5 million children, media and press agencies around the country have gotten together, in workshops organized by the National Measles Steering Committee, with the assistance of UNICEF, to see what they can do, in addition to giving air time, to spread the word about the campaign.
The campaign, which is scheduled to begin on the 13th of September, is the largest vaccination campaign that the country has seen and involves several government ministries, international and national agencies, most notably the Measles Partnership for Africa lead by the United Nations Foundation (UNF), UNICEF [and], WHO, CDC and the American Red Cross (ARC) [WHO], 30,000 mobilizes, 15,000 vaccinators, scout organizations, religious groups and the army.
“We are delighted by the commitment made by our media partners for this huge event,” said UNICEF’s Representative to Madagascar, Barbara Bentein. “The media is an extremely powerful force and their support is essential in getting every child between the age of nine months and 14 years vaccinated.”
In addition to the production of several TV and radio spots, as well as newspaper announcements, famous local artists – one from each of the country’s six provinces -- has created a special “campaign song” to reach out to children and young people. These songs will be aired on local radio stations before and during the campaign.
In 2000, measles caused nearly half of all the 1.7 million childhood vaccine preventable deaths around the world. Although in Madagascar, it officially accounted for 1% of all hospital based deaths (some 1,000 children), only half of all children in the country are completely vaccinated. Therefore, in order to halt a potentially deadly measles epidemic, it is imperative that all children between the ages of nine months and 14 years are vaccinated against measles.
For more information, please contact:
Misbah M. Sheikh
Tel: (261-20) 22 626 45/46
Fax: (261-20) 22 628 45
Mobile: (261-33) 11 892 83