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Lebanon starts national anti-measles and rubella campaign targeting over 900,000 children

BEIRUT, 31 March 2008 – Lebanon started a national anti-measles and anti-rubella vaccination campaign today targeting more than 900,000 children, as part of its commitment to the UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO) strategy to eliminate the diseases by the end of 2010.

The campaign had been recommended by the country’s Ministry of Public Health in an effort to curb the recurrence of measles cases occurring annually in most Lebanese areas. It will also involve the Ministry of Education and others, as well as various civil society groups and organizations.

The campaign will target children aged from nine months to 14 years and will be split into two phases. The first phase runs from today until 12 April and targets children in educational institutions and nurseries. The second phase, from 29 April to 3 May, will focus on children missed during the first round.

Vaccinations will be carried out by 350 teams in over 3,000 private and public schools, with each team comprising at least one medical doctor or one registered nurse.

"A healthy mind means a sound body, and the Lebanese child is our first concern, without him we cannot build a sound and healthy society," said Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr. Khalid Qabbani, at a press conference for the launch held last Thursday.

Speaking at the same event, the Minister of Public Health Dr. Mohammed Jawad Khalifa, thanked all of those involved in the campaign, particularly UNICEF, and urged all Lebanese citizens to have their children vaccinated at the nearest centre.

In the run-up to the campaign, UNICEF undertook a comprehensive media awareness programme among the population highlighting the importance of vaccinations.

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, please contact:
Soha Bsat Boustani - Chief Communication, UNICEF Lebanon, Mobile No.+961 70 931 700; e-mail:sboustani@unicef.org

Brian Hansford, UNICEF Media NY, 1 212 326–7269, bhansford@unicef.org




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