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Health campaign protects 3.5 million Angolan children from killer diseases

UNICEF Image: UNICEF image: ‘Viva a Vida com Saúde’ (Enjoy a Healthy Life) Angola
© UNICEF video
Mothers and their children lining up during ‘Viva a Vida com Saúde’ (Enjoy a Healthy Life), the most comprehensive health campaign ever held in Angola.

By Sarah Crowe

LUANDA, Angola, 24 July 2006 – One in four children in Angola dies before his or her fifth birthday, mostly from preventable diseases like malaria and measles.

To turn the tide against one of the world’s highest child mortality rates, the Angolan Government has launched a major campaign to reach the country’s 3.6 million children under five with lifesaving vaccines and interventions.

The complex campaign, dubbed ‘Viva a Vida com Saúde’ (Enjoy a Healthy Life) and continuing from 12 July to 3 August, involves some 23,000 health workers and volunteers. It’s considered a vital step to protect the health and development of Angola’s children, long neglected after nearly three decades of civil war.

‘One-stop shop’ for child health

Logistics have been a huge challenge during the most comprehensive and integrated campaign ever conducted in this oil- and diamond-rich West African nation. Roads and rail infrastructure have been ruined by the war, and landmines still litter the landscape.

But thousands of mothers and their children have responded to the campaign with great enthusiasm, lining up around health posts throughout the country’s 18 provinces.

UNICEF Image: Girl receives vitamin A supplement in Angola
© UNICEF video
Girl receives a vitamin A supplement during Angola’s integrated health campaign.

As a ‘one-stop shop’ for child health, the campaign provides children with measles vaccine, oral polio vaccine, de-worming medicine and vitamin A supplements to boost their immune systems. Their mothers are given long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets to protect their families from malaria.

“This is a public health first, in which five life-saving and life-enhancing measures are being provided in one consolidated campaign,” remarked UNICEF’s Representative in Angola, Angela Kearney. “This kind of broad-spectrum protection can give children’s survival in Angola a much-needed boost and do it very cost effectively.”

Strong and wide support

The carefully planned $15.8 million campaign relies on the cooperation and contributions of an array of international partners, including UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the US President’s Malaria Initiative, the Measles Initiative and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – as well as a range of donors, including the UK Department for International Development, the Governments of Japan and Norway, the Canadian International Development Agency, Exxon Mobil and Rotary International.

Within Angola, hundreds of organizations – such as the CORE Group, the Red Cross and many NGOs – are participating in the campaign.

The drive is also endorsed and embraced by the Angolan Football Federation. Fresh from playing in this year’s international competition in Germany, the Angolan World Cup team members promoted the campaign through TV and radio, scoring a major win for their country’s children.




21 July 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Sarah Crowe reports on the most comprehensive health campaign ever conducted in Angola.
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