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News note

Hundreds of media agencies in Madagascar mobilize around measles

ANTANANARIVO, 20 August 2004 – In the weeks preceding the official launch of  the measles campaign in Madagascar, which targets 7.5 million children, media  and  press  agencies  around  the  country  have gotten together, in workshops  organized  by  the National Measles Steering Committee, with the assistance  of  UNICEF,  to see what they can do, in addition to giving air time, to spread the word about the campaign.

The  campaign, which is scheduled to begin on the 13th of September, is the largest vaccination campaign that the country has seen and involves several government  ministries,  international  and national agencies, most notably the  Measles  Partnership  for Africa lead by the United Nations Foundation (UNF),  UNICEF  [and],  WHO,  CDC  and  the American Red Cross (ARC) [WHO], 30,000 mobilizes, 15,000 vaccinators, scout organizations, religious groups and the army.

“We  are  delighted  by  the commitment made by our media partners for this huge  event,”  said UNICEF’s Representative to Madagascar, Barbara Bentein. “The media is an extremely powerful force and their support is essential in getting   every  child  between  the  age  of  nine  months  and  14  years vaccinated.”

In  addition  to  the  production of several TV and radio spots, as well as newspaper  announcements,  famous  local  artists  –  one  from each of the country’s  six  provinces -- has created a special “campaign song” to reach out  to children and young people. These songs will be aired on local radio stations before and during the campaign.

In  2000,  measles  caused  nearly  half  of  all the 1.7 million childhood vaccine  preventable  deaths  around  the world. Although in Madagascar, it officially  accounted  for  1%  of  all  hospital  based deaths (some 1,000 children),  only  half  of  all  children  in  the  country  are completely vaccinated.   Therefore,  in  order  to  halt  a potentially deadly measles epidemic,  it  is  imperative  that  all  children between the ages of nine months and 14 years are vaccinated against measles.


For more information, please contact:

Misbah M. Sheikh
Communication Officer
UNICEF Madagascar
Tel: (261-20) 22 626 45/46
Fax: (261-20) 22 628 45
Mobile: (261-33) 11 892 83
Email: msheikh@unicef.org




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