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Gabon authorities, UNICEF and UN partners team up to deliver a life saving package as part of a large scale “Integrated Campaign for the survival of the Child”

LIBREVILLE, 5 December 2007 – A major new effort to save the lives of children in the West African state of Gabon has been launched by the nation’s President. His Excellency El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba presided over the launch as the operation started to roll across the vast jungles to reach towns and villages. The effort is the first time in the nation’s history that an integrated attempt has been made to hit at several causes of avoidable deaths in young children. Over the next five days children will be vaccinated against measles, de-wormed, given Vitamin A supplementation and households will be given impregnated bednets to protect against Malaria.

UNICEF Area Representative in Gabon M. Youssouf Abdel-Jelil and other UN participating partners attended the launch. Despite scorching heat, health posts around the country reported that mothers (alerted by an integrated communication campaign through media and billboards) with babies queued to make sure their children receive this life-saving package.

The effort brings together the resources of the Government of Gabon, civil society, and the private sector, while financial and technical support has come from UNICEF, WHO, the United Nations Foundation and the Global Fund for the fight against Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

During her speech in the presence of the President, Ms. Paulette Missambo, the Minister of State for Public Health, acknowledged the role of the United Nations partners to accelerate child survival and development in Gabon.

The campaign aims to reach 300,000 children under the age of 5 throughout the 9 provinces of the country. UNICEF is working with the authorities and the WHO to monitor the work and to assess overall effectiveness in achieving results by making children safer.

While Gabon is classified as a middle income country due to oil revenues, it has a relatively high under-five mortality rate estimated at 91 per 1000. The figures have stubbornly refused to budge and measles and malaria are major killer diseases in Gabon. According to the Ministry of Health, more than 6 000 deaths and 80 000 cases from measles were registered each year before the establishment of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in this country. According to WHO, malaria is responsible for the majority of hospitals consultations in the country.

This campaign is in line with UNICEF country-programme child survival strategy that aims to increase routine immunization coverage for all antigens, to achieve Vitamin A supplementation and deworming for children and babies while improving overall access to primary health care.

It is hoped that with this integrated campaign, backed by earlier annual efforts and improvements to routine health services at a community level will bring about a permanent fall in the number of children dying due to preventable causes.
UNICEF/Gabon, working closely with partners in the Government and within the UN system has been a key supporter to advancing the millennium agenda in Gabon, in particular in the areas of health, HIV/AIDS prevention, Education and child protection.
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The national integrated campaign for child survival in Gabon is the result of a joint effort of the Government of Gabon, UNICEF, WHO, UN Foundation, the Global Fund, SANOFI-PASTEUR, CIMGABON, AIR SERVICE, la NATIONALE and the Gabonese Red Cross.

About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early
childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF
supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and
the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary
contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information:
Youssouf Abdel Jelil, UNICEF Representative, Libreville; Tel.: +241 05.22.97.20; Email: yabdeljelil@unicef.org;
Yvette Bivigou, UNICEF Communication Consultant, Libreville; Tel. +241 07669443; Email: ybivigou@unicef.org

 

 

 

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