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Angola's biggest-ever health campaign launched

NATIONAL MEASLES CAMPAIGN PROMISES TO SAVE LIVES

LUANDA 21 April 2003 - Angola today launched the biggest health campaign in the country's history. The National Measles Campaign will inoculate seven million Angolan children against a highly contagious disease the kills more young Angolans than any other preventable ailment.

Spearheaded by Angola's Ministry of Health, with key financial, logistical and training support from UNICEF, the National Measles Campaign was launched by Angola's President, in the presence of UNICEF Executive-Director Carol Bellamy.

While the measles fatality rate in developed countries is one in 1000 cases, in Angola it is one in 10. Indeed it is estimated 30 Angolan children die every day from measles. And so in a most remarkable feat of mobilization and training, the campaign seeks to vaccinate every single Angolan child aged between nine months and 15 years.

'The enormity and greatness of this campaign must be seen in the context of two things,' said UNICEF Angola Representative, Mario Ferrari. 'Firstly, that war devastated Angola's health infrastructure and this initiative seeks to rebuild basic health services and establish conditions across the country for routine vaccination. And secondly that it is the first major peacetime step to address Angola's critical child mortality rate. It is a bold step, but that is what is now required, and it is entirely achievable.'

The National Measles Campaign is Angola's largest ever-civil activity. 10,000 health workers have been trained, and 23,000 workers and mobilizers from all sectors of Government, NGOs, churches, and institutions of the civil society are involved.

The Campaign has been accorded leadership from the highest levels: starting at the President and Ministries of Health and Education, and has received priceless support of doctors, teachers, vaccinators, volunteers and communities across Angola.

'The Government and all sectors of society should be commended for this massive vaccination campaign,' said Ferrari. 'This initiative has necessitated skilled micro planning, strong political will, and invaluable support from the Church.'

UNICEF also expressed 'profound gratitude' to WHO, for their endless technical and logistical support. And to WFP who distributed more than 2500 metric tonnes of material.

The Campaign will be in three phases. The first this week, vaccinating in schools and institutions; the second from May 3-9 in urban areas; the final phase in rural areas from May 10-19. Through this campaign the Government will establish its presence in remote areas, some of them accessible for the first time after the peace accords.

It is estimated 5000 hospitals were destroyed during Angola's civil war, and so the 2003 National Measles Campaign was conceived in the understanding that besides its enormous contribution to measles control, it would create the opportunity to revamp of basic health services.

'The National Measles Campaign and its massive training and mobilization exercise means we have reached a superb starting point,' said Ferrari. 'Of course there remains much to do, but this is a wonderful day for Angola's children. A day they were put first on the agenda.'


Some Facts

  • UNICEF is the major contributor to the cost of the campaign, with $8million. Of this $6.2million was received from donors.
  • WFP performed an extraordinary logistics operation with the distribution of more than 2,500 metric tonnes of material worth almost $4 million.
  • More than 10 million doses of measles vaccines and diluents were made available for this campaign.
  • Eight million auto-disable syringes will be used. The training on the waste management of used needles, is paving the way for safe injection practices in the whole health system. This is critical, given the rising levels of HIV transmission in Angola.
  • Twelve radio spots have been produced in Portuguese and 12 local languages to ensure Angolans know its time to vaccinate their children.
  • Key donors were: the Governments of Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the European Union.

 

For more information, please contact:


Patricia Cervantes, Head of Information UNICEF Angola, (244) 91-501 943 pcervantes@unicef.org

James Elder, Communications Officer UNICEF Angola (244) 91 - 219 524 jelder@unicef.org

Jose Luis Mendonca, Information Officer UNICEF Angola (244) 2 - 332348 (ext 409) jlmendonca@unicef.org

Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, 917) 796 9845 e-mail kdonovan@unicef.org


 

 

 

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