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Zimbabwe launches Measles vaccination and Child Health days

….campaign largest child survival drive in the last decade

HARARE, 24 May 2010 – The Ministry’s of Health and Child Welfare of the inclusive Government of Zimbabwe, supported by Hellen Keller International, WHO and UNICEF today launched a nationwide Measles Vaccination Campaign and Child Health Days, to fight a growing measles outbreak and arrest plummeting immunisation coverage.

Speaking at the launch, WHO Representative, Dr. Custodia Mandlhate called on all stakeholders to join hands in the ensuring the eradication and elimination of diseases. 

“We are calling for strong engagement and deep involvement of all stakeholders.  Let us all join hands and renew our commitements as a caring society, caring nation.”

This year’s campaign comes against a backdrop of a mounting measles outbreak that has claimed nearly 400 lives from over 7 000 recorded cases. Immunisation coverage has significantly fallen from above 80 % to below 50% in Zimbabwe.   The 10 day massive countrywide Child Health Days campaign which runs between 24th May – 2nd June, will reach 5 million Zimbabwean children under the age of fifteen with vital vaccination against measles.

Thanks to the support of the Government of Canada, the Government of Japan, the Government of Netherlands, The European Commission Office of Humanitarian Assistance and the Consolidated Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), more than US$ 8million has been spent to ensure adequate vaccines, logistics and staff are in place for a smooth supply chain of vaccines to reach even the most remote populations. Social mobilisation and community outreach activities have been intensified to prompt parents to bring children to the designated points. Immunisation points have been set up at all hospitals, clinics, community centres, churches and schools while outreach facilities have been established to bring these services to the door step of hard to reach areas. The campaign will also provide a “catch” up facility for children who have missed routine immunisation against polio, diphtheria, pertusis and tetanus.

“This campaign is a bold step to arrest some of the immense challenges that confront Zimbabwe’s children in the area of Accelerated Child Survival and Development,” said Dr. Salama, adding that health interventions for the well being of children have to be complemented by other services in the areas of water, sanitation, education, nutrition and protection.

UNICEF’s Accelerated Child Survival and Development programme aims to accelerate reductions in under five morbidity and mortality through low cost interventions such as the delivery of vaccines, vitamin A supplements, and prevention of malaria. This large-scale national immunization outreach programme is one of the vital interventions aimed to help Zimbabwe reach its Millennium Development Goals targets on child mortality in the next five years

For further information, please contact:

Micaela Marques de Sousa, UNICEF Chief of Communications Zimbabwe, Tel: +263 912 124 268, email: mmarques@unicef.org
Tsitsi Singizi, UNICEF Communications Officer Zimbabwe, Tel: + 263 91 2943 915 email: tsingizi@unicef.org

Wendy Juulius, Information Officer, WHO – Zimbabwe, Tel: 0912431408. email: juliusw@zw.afro.who.int 

 

 
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