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Women religious leaders in Algeria spread the word about maternal and child health

ALGIERS, 13 July 2009 – UNICEF and the Algerian ministries of Religious Affairs and Health launched a series of training sessions for mourchidates, or women preachers, on promoting and protecting the health of women and children.

Lack of accurate information negatively impacts the health of many mothers and children in Algeria. However, because of their significant reach, mourchidates can play a lead role in relaying vital information to women in mosques through guidance and awareness campaigns.

According to UNICEF estimates, the annual number of deaths of women from pregnancy-related causes in Algeria is 180 per 100,000 live births. Only 7 per cent of children are exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life and 11 per cent of children under the age of five suffer from stunting. 

UNICEF is partnering with the Algerian government to provide women religious leaders key messages on protecting maternal and child health.

More than 30 mourchidates have been trained so far in a programme targeting 300 women preachers throughout the country. The programme seeks to introduce participants to principles of communication for behavioral change, providing them with essential information on the health of mothers and children, and highlighting the role of communication in promoting health.

“The next step for us is to reach out to women and mothers and provide them with the information they need for their wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of their children,” said Samira, one of the participants.

Such information will have a positive impact on the health and development of children as well as the mothers themselves.

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. In Pakistan and elsewhere, it has provided vital relief and reconstruction support to help individuals rebuild their lives after emergencies. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Faycal Oulmi, UNICEF Algiers,
Tel + 213 2169 2135 Ext. 122,
E-mail: foulmi@unicef.org




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