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Bringing hope to Angolan children

Mass health campaign begins to help 3.5 million

WASHINGTON, D.C., 12 July 2006 – The government of Angola and its partners in the Measles Initiative, the Global Fund on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative are launching a major health campaign to provide life-saving interventions for Angolan children. The integrated campaign is targeting more than 3.5 million children with measles and polio vaccinations, vitamin A, de-worming medication, and, in seven provinces, long-lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs). The campaign begins on 12 July in Luanda, with an official launch event on 13 July in Mbaza Congo.

This campaign is a follow-up to a previous measles campaign in 2003, which reached 96 per cent of the targeted group. The current campaign demonstrates the importance of follow-up immunization activities in a country where only 64 per cent of children receive routine measles immunizations. As a part of the Angolan government’s Maternal and Child Health Mortality Reduction Program, the campaign will focus on vulnerable children, especially those in border regions where there has been a re-emergence of measles outbreaks.

“The number of reported measles cases declined dramatically after the successful 2003 campaign,” says Angela Kearney, a representative of UNICEF Angola, “but routine coverage still requires strengthening in many provinces.”

Drawing on the successful experience in 2003, additional life-saving health interventions will be integrated into the upcoming measles campaign. Approximately 800,000 insecticide treated nets will be distributed across seven provinces where malaria transmission rates are highest. Insecticide treated nets are proven to be one of the most effective methods for preventing malaria, a leading cause of death and disability for children in Angola. Children under age five will also receive polio vaccinations, vitamin A and de-worming medication. 

The integrated campaign will be carried out with support from the Measles Initiative, a partnership formed to reduce measles deaths in sub-Saharan Africa that is led by the American Red Cross, United Nations Foundation, World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Additional supporters in this campaign include: USAID, the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative, the Global Fund, CORE, the governments of Japan and Norway, CIDA, Rotary International and DFID. ExxonMobil contributed financial resources and will provide approximately 70,000 LLINs to protect children against malaria.

Since 2001, the Measles Initiative has vaccinated more than 213 million children in more than 40 African countries, saving approximately 1.2 million lives. Through the financial and technical support of the Measles Initiative and the commitment of African governments, measles deaths in Africa have fallen 60 per cent between 1999 and 2004. This decline represents significant progress toward the overall goal of reducing measles deaths worldwide by 90 per cent by 2010.

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Editor’s note:  Still photos and b-roll are available from recent campaigns.  Please visit the press room at www.measlesinitiative.org or contact Michael Oko at okom@usa.redcross.org

Background:

The Measles Initiative, launched in 2001, is a long-term commitment and partnership among leaders in public health and supports the goal of reducing measles deaths globally by 90 percent by 2010 compared to 2000.  Measles Initiative partners include the American Red Cross, United Nations Foundation, CDC, WHO and UNICEF. 

Largely due to the technical and financial support of the Measles Initiative and the commitment from African governments, more than 200 million children have been vaccinated against measles and an estimated 1.2 million lives have been saved since 2001. Building on this achievement, in 2005, the Initiative has expanded its technical and financial support to countries in Asia, where total measles deaths are highest outside of sub-Saharan
Africa.

The Initiative will also continue to carry out integrated campaigns in which health workers provide not only measles vaccines, but also other interventions such as insecticide-treated nets for malaria prevention, vitamin A, de-worming medication and polio vaccines. 

Since 2001, the Measles Initiative has mobilized more than $200 million and supported more than 40 African countries and three Asian countries to implement high-quality measles vaccination campaigns. As a result of these campaigns, as well as improvements in routine immunization activities, global measles deaths have dropped by 48 percent from 871,000 in 1999 to an estimated 454,000 in 2004. The largest reduction occurred in Africa, the region with the highest burden of disease, where estimated measles cases and deaths dropped by 60 percent.

Supporters of the Measles Initiative also include: the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI Alliance), The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Vodafone Group Foundation, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Japanese International Agency for Cooperation (JICA), Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Izumi Foundation, Becton, Dickinson and Company, and governments. 

Measles is one of the leading vaccine-preventable childhood killers in the world. In 2004, it was estimated that there were 454,000 measles deaths globally – this translates to more than 1,200 deaths every day or 50 every hour.  The overwhelming majority of these deaths, that is 410,000 out of 454,000, are children under the age of five.

A safe and highly effective vaccine has been available for more than 40 years and costs less than US $1, making measles vaccinations one of the most cost-effective public health interventions available for preventing deaths.  Despite this, millions of children remain at risk.

For more information about the Measles Initiative, log on to www.measlesinitiative.org.  To make a financial contribution, call 1-800 RED CROSS or to make a secure online donation, log on to www.measlesinitiative.org.

For more information, please contact:
Michael Oko, American Red Cross, Washington, DC, +1 202 303 6820
Amy DiElsi, UN Foundation, Washington, DC, +1 202 419 3230
Erica Kochi, UNICEF New York, +1 212 326 7785
Steven Stewart, CDC, Atlanta, +1 404-639-8327
Hayatee Hasan, WHO Geneva, +41 22 791 2103
Zorodza Machekanyanga,, WHO Regional Office for Africa, + 47 241 38129


 

 

 

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