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Ani Lorak joins UNICEF in campaign to protect children from avian influenza.

29 May 2007, Kyiv – Even though avian influenza – or bird flu – is now better understood, the problem still exists globally. Seven of the nine avian influenza deaths in the region have been children, so getting the right message to families about the disease is critical. Now Ukrainian singer Ani Lorak is joining UNICEF in the campaign to safeguard children from bird flu. She is featured in a new video clip in which she tells children what avian influenza is and how to protect themselves from it.

The new video clip, featuring Ani Lorak and school children, has been produced as a part of the information campaign being implemented by UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund). A presentation was made to journalists on 29 May during which the clip was shown and children handed them origami birds.  The clip will be broadcast on leading national and regional TV channels in Ukraine from 1 June.

During a press conference to announce her joining the campaign against avian influenza, Ani Lorak said that “Ukraine can not stand aside from global problems. Since 2003, the bird flu virus has affected nearly 30 countries and threatens many more. We must prepare so that we can better protect ourselves and especially children in case of any outbreak here in Ukraine. And I urge other Ukrainian celebrities to use their influence to attract attention to such global problems and issues’.

UNICEF Representative in Ukraine, Jeremy Hartley, welcomed the participation of Ani Lorak in the campaign and said that she would be a tremendous asset in changing people’s behaviour to protect themselves from and bringing attention to the problem of avian influenza in Ukraine.

“Most countries in the CIS would not be ready to combat a full-scale pandemic with potentially millions of people affected. Unfortunately international experts are sure that there will be a pandemic, they just cannot say when it will happen”, said Jeremy Hartley. He added that “the threat is real and we all need to be fully prepared. As with all such infectious diseases, everyone must have sufficient information to know what to do and what not to do so that we are less likely to be affected. This is particularly the case for children who are more vulnerable to the bird flu virus; we must make sure that children are given priority”.

UNICEF is conducting information campaigns on avian influenza in more than 140 countries. In Ukraine the campaign is being conducted with the financial support of the European Commission and USAID. Since May 2006 the information campaign has been implemented in nine high-risk oblasts, focusing on the general population with a special component for children and youth. As part of the campaign UNICEF has announced a competition of ‘best practices’ on avian influenza prevention activities among children during the school summer vacation. The results will be announced during an award ceremony to take place in September in Kyiv.

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For 60 years UNICEF has been the world's leader for children, working on the ground in 157 countries to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for poor countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, 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.

For more information:
Dmytro Konyk, Communication Officer, UNICEF Tel: (+380) 44 230 25 14,           Email:dkonyk@unicef.org
Anna Sukhodolska, Communication Assistant, UNICEF Tel: (+380) 44 230 25 14, Email:asukhodolska@unicef.org
Maryanna Zaichykova, Programme Assistant on Avian Influenza Project, UNICEF Tel:(+380)44 230 25 14,  Email: mzaichykova@unicef.org

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