UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mahmoud Kabil supports anti-polio campaign for West Africa.
Nouakchott, Mauritania, 29 April 2010 - UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Middle East and North Africa Egyptian actor Mahmoud Kabil concluded a 4 day visit to Mauritania in which he supported the launch of a regional synchronised anti-polio campaign for West Africa.
More than 10% of children in Mauritania die before the age of 5 and more than 25% of children below 1 are not vaccinated against polio, a highly infectious disease that is caused by a virus and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours.
"It is unacceptable that children are still dying from a preventable disease, especially since Mauritania was close to eradicating the virus", said Mahmoud Kabil.
It has unfortunately come back to the region and Mauritania due to some irresponsible messages to the population. All should understand the polio vaccine is perfectly safe, easy to deliver and potentially life-saving".
The GWA’s visit to Mauritania came in the wake of a regional synchronized anti polio campaign, covering 19 countries, launched by President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, with strong support by UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
UNICEF Representative in Mauritania Christian Koog stressed that only strong cooperation between all sectors and UN agencies can eradicate the disease: "This unprecedented mobilization to fight polio would not be possible without UNICEF's and WHO's technical and financial assistance and the regional Goodwill Ambassador’s contribution".
Mahmoud Kabil met with the Minister of Health Sheikh Ould Horma Ould Babana and a number of national and local officials to support the campaign and advocate for child rights in the country.
He also visited national NGOs and UNICEF partners working on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting and met with children formerly involved in camel racing, in the framework of the rehabilitation project spearheaded by the government of the United Arab Emirates and UNICEF in what Kabil described as a sad story with a happy ending.
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