Some 519,000 children aged six to 59 months are targeted to receive Vitamin A supplementation while 502,000 children aged 12-59 months are projected to receive a deworming Mebendazole tablet. The drugs will be administered starting today at government health clinics and other designated locations in 10 counties: Bomi, Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Kru, Maryland, Montserrado, Rivercess, River Gee, and Sinoe. The campaign draws to a close on Friday.
“This public health campaign is completely free to Liberian families, and we call on all mothers, fathers, and guardians to bring their children to the nearest government clinic to receive Vitamin A and the deworming medicine,” said the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, the Hon. Walter Gwenigale, MD. “If a government clinic is not near to your home community, ask your town crier and he or she will be able to tell you where the nearest fixed point is.”
“No medicine will be given to take home because the children will swallow the deworming medicine and Vitamin A on the spot. But we do call on families to bring a small amount of safe water for the children so they can take their medicine,” said Dr. Gwenigale, who thanked UNICEF for its funding and technical support.
Vitamin A helps protect young children from blindness, measles, diarrheal dehydration, and acute respiratory infections. Intestinal parasites can be deadly and the deworming of children also helps children grow stronger because it helps their bodies resist infections.
UNICEF Liberia’s Acting Senior Programme Officer, Kabuka M. Banda, explained while this effort is underway in 10 counties this week, children in the remaining five counties of Liberia are receiving Vitamin A and deworming tablets through an ongoing campaign to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) from Liberia, in an initiative funded by UNICEF in collaboration with the Government of Liberia, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations Mission in Liberia.
“For the first time in Liberia, a national tetanus vaccination campaign is underway. Our work on MNT elimination is building on successes and lessons learned from emergency vaccination campaigns in 2003-2005 when the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare led an effort to vaccinate more than one million Liberian children from measles and polio,” said Mr. Banda. “This is the start of a long-term plan to eradicate tetanus from Liberia and ultimately, the strategy will ensure that more than 800,000 Liberian women of child-bearing age receive three doses of the tetanus toxoid (TT) vaccine necessary to protect them and their newborns from tetanus. If successful, this strategy will contribute to the elimination of tetanus in Liberia. Tetanus is a major cause of morbidity for children in Liberia under age one.”
Dr. Gwenigale said the success of these lifesaving public health efforts depends on “the collective efforts of all of us - the vaccination teams, the community mobilizers, national and local leaders, as well as parents. Let’s work together to protect our children.”
For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations, and governments. UNICEF is a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace.
For further information, please contact:
Patrick Slavin, Communications Officer, UNICEF Liberia: Mobile + 06 834-019, email@example.com