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Public information plays key role in Bangladesh measles campaign

© UNICEF Bangladesh/2005/Sorowar
At the start of Bangladesh’s National Immunization Campaign against Measles, mothers lined up to have their children immunized.

By Shamsuddin Ahmed

SARIAKANDI, Bangladesh, 22 September 2005 – This sleepy outback community by the banks of the Brahmaputra River is located about 200 km from the national capital, Dhaka. Sariakandi’s people are accustomed to dealing with problems: erosion, floods, poverty and unemployment. One problem, however, is now far less serious than it ever was: child mortality due to disease.

The reason is simple. The mothers of Sariakandi are well-informed and highly motivated. Nearly all of them have their children immunized on a regular basis. This month they are bringing their children for measles immunization, as Bangladesh’s first-ever national campaign against the disease is now underway.

Mosammat Molly, 19, is one of Sariakandi’s mothers. Her daughter, Jannatul Firdausi, is 10 months old and will be immunized in the campaign. “You will not find a single mother in Sariakandi who does not know the why, how and when to immunize a child,” said Mosammat Molly with apparent pride.

When asked where this knowledge is coming from, she replied: “First, the Family Welfare Volunteer informed me about this a week ago. Then, my husband told me about this. He heard it from a public address announcement. Later on, I also heard microphone horns blaring the message.”

© UNICEF Bangladesh/2005/Sorowar
Immunization at a rural ‘madrasa’ (Islamic school) in Bangladesh.

Word of mouth

“Nothing travels faster and stronger than word of mouth,” said Dr. Sudhir Chandra Banik, an office with the local Health Centre. “It’s the most effective method of communication too, especially when it comes to health communication, and more so, if it is in Bangladesh.

“Our staff and volunteers discussed with parents the impact of the measles vaccine on the child and dispelled their fear of any adverse effect. We also told people that those who had been given the measles vaccine earlier should take the second dose during the campaign.”

The three-week campaign, which began on 3 September, aims to reach 1.5 million children under the age of ten. The next phase, in 2006, aims to reach 33.5 million children – making it one of the largest measles immunization campaigns in the world.

© UNICEF Bangladesh/2005/Sorowar
Nurse Habiba Khatun immunizes a two year old child during the National Campaign against Measles.

UNICEF support

UNICEF has been working with the Bangladesh government on the campaign, by helping disseminate information through print and broadcast media, through the timely procurement and supply of vaccines, and by assisting with monitoring and logistics.

“I am sure we will be able to rid the country of measles in the next few years if the present campaign and the one we plan to launch next year can be led to a successful conclusion,” said UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh Morten Giersing.

“Bangladesh has many success stories in saving children’s lives and giving them primary education. The measles campaign will add another positive contribution to those stories.”



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