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Benin conducts anti-malaria bednet campaign to save children's lives

© UNICEF Benin/2007/Boya
UNICEF Benin Goodwill Ambassador Zeynab Habib stands with a mother and her child who received one of the more than 1.6 million bednets distributed across the country.

By Gisèle Langue-Menye

OUIDAH, Benin, 22 October 2007 – This month, Benin conducted one of largest anti-malaria campaigns ever organized in the country. More than 1.6 million long lasting insecticide-treated bednets with the potential to protect 90 per cent of Benin’s children have been given out from 4,000 distribution posts nationwide by 28,000 distributors.

Amongst the hundreds of guests at the launch of the campaign was a mother named Firma whose four-year-old daughter died from malaria. Firma said she brought along her six-month-old child to collect an impregnated bednet because she didn't want to lose another child to the deadly disease.

In Benin, malaria is the main cause of hospital visits and deaths of children under five. The massive nationwide malaria campaign, which ran from 12-14 October, backed up the free distribution of bednets with vitamin A supplementation and deworming treatment.

Sustained efforts to fight poverty

President Boni Yayi presided over the campaign launch ceremony attended by traditional rulers, community leaders and representatives of the campaign’s 25 non-governmental partners, as well as hundreds of mothers and children.

Mr. Yayi thanked the NGO partners for supporting Benin in the fight against malaria, which he called “a fight against misery.”

Admiral Timothy Ziemer, personal representative of US President George W. Bush and Coordinator of the President’s Malaria Initiative – a $1.2 billion programme that covers 15 African countries – praised Benin for its sustained efforts to fight poverty.

'Save the lives of our children'

UNICEF Benin Goodwill Ambassador Zeynab Habib sang, in French and Yoruba, a song she had prepared for the ceremony entitled, ‘Let’s save the lives of our children’.

“This campaign is a unique opportunity backed by strong political will,” said UNICEF’s Representative in Benin, Dr. Souleymane Diallo. “We should seize this occasion to reduce infantile mortality and morbidity.”



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