Child health days in Guinea-Bissau: a nation-wide campaign to reach 235,000 children with life-saving interventions
Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, 6 July 2009 – In between two rounds of anticipated Presidential Elections, UNICEF Bissau is supporting a nation-wide campaign integrating immunization against measles, vitamin A supplementation and de-worming for all children aged 6-59 months.
In the course of five Child Health Days (3-7 July), about 235,000 children are targeted with these life-saving interventions.
The goal is to reach at least 95% of children in all Health Areas, while also providing immunization against other childhood preventable diseases in areas of particularly low immunization coverage.
The last campaign against measles was conducted in 2006. Although measles immunization is also provided on a routine basis at Health Centres, these are still very weak and do not succeed in reaching all children.
Therefore, there are children born after 2006 who have never received measles vaccination and are potentially exposed to measles, should an epidemic occur.
In Guinea Bissau, measles is the fourth cause of death among children under 5 five - after malaria, diarrhoeal diseases and pneumonia.
Before the introduction of the Immunization Programme, about 30 out of every 100 children catching measles would die, in Guinea Bissau.
That’s why an ancient proverb says: “A child is not a child in times of measles” – as most children would die during the measles epidemics of the past.
Together with Immunization against measles, children are being provided with Vitamin A and de-worming tablets – two additional life saving interventions aiming, respectively, at raising children resistance against many diseases and prevent malnutrition while freeing them from parasites.
UNICEF is supporting this campaign in partnership with WHO. Having provided the Ministry of Health with an approximate amount of US$ 350,000, UNICEF represents the main financial and operational supporter of the current campaign. Funds for this campaign were donated by the Italian National Committee for UNICEF, CIDA and The Measles Initiative.The Ministry of Health, Dr. Camilo Pereira, chaired the launching’s ceremony of this campaign in presence of UNICEF and WHO Representatives, members of the Diplomatic Corps, health staff, mothers of children, religious and traditional chiefs, local and international media.
The ceremony took place in the populous Antula neighbourhood, one of the most challenging neighbourhoods of Bissau in terms of vaccination coverage.
The famous Guinea Bissau singer, Dulce Neves, participated in the event, and used her influence and reputation among women to appeal to all mothers of children under five, in order to take them for vaccination.
Her messages are being broadcast by the local radio stations.
Several teams composed of colleagues from the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and WHO are in the field to monitor immunization activities and provide vaccinators with technical support.
For more information, please contact: