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UNICEF to vaccinate 1.4 million children in Liberia for measles

Campaign flags Liberian government’s commitment to restoring health services

MONROVIA, 17 February 2004— UNICEF today said that it plans to support the vaccination of almost half of Liberia’s population against measles, by inoculating 1.4 million children by the end of this year.

Speaking in Monrovia, UNICEF’s Representative to Liberia, Ms Angela Kearney, said that the campaign will save 10,000 children’s lives over the next three years.

“But the campaign carries another powerful signal,” said Ms Kearney. “It flags government determination to rebuild the health system. Not so many months ago bullets were flying in Monrovia, and now the Health Ministry is establishing a vaccine cold-chain system that will serve babies who are born tomorrow and in the years to come.”

The measles vaccination campaign is bringing back into service long-abandoned clinics and health posts. It will also be the first government-supported health campaign since Liberia disintegrated into civil war some fifteen years ago.

UNICEF is helping to build the cold storage system necessary to maintain vaccines throughout the country, and has established a waste management system to safely dispose of needle waste for the first time.

“We’ve already reached over 780,000 children in accessible areas,” said Kearney. “As UNMIL troops continue to deploy throughout the country, UNICEF and our partners will be able to bring vaccination to kids who can’t be reached right now.”

Since the start of the campaign last year, UNICEF, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, NGOs and the Ministry of Health, has reached children in Grand Cape Mount, Monsterrado, Margibi as well as parts of Bomi, Bong, and Grand Bassa Counties. 

The Measles Vaccination campaign is targeting all children between the ages of six months and 15 years, which accounts for nearly half of Liberia’s total population. 

Health workers are taking advantage of the measles vaccination campaign to provide Vitamin A supplements to young children to build up their resistance against measles, respiratory tract infections, and diarrhoea.

For further information, please contact:

United Nations Children’s Fund, Liberia
MacArthur S. Hill  
Programme communication   

Mike T. James
Officer Project Assistant/Communication




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