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UNICEF supports national measles campaign in Rwanda

BUGESERA, RWANDA, 6 October 2009 - To continue a tradition launched in 2008, Rwanda today organized the third round of Mother and Child Health Week – with a twist.  Not only will children receive the Mother and Child Health Week standard care of life saving interventions, they will also get inoculation against measles.

“Although mortality from measles only accounts for less than two percent of deaths of children under-five in Rwanda, we have to ensure that children continue to remain protected from this life-threatening illness,”” said Dr. Joseph Foumbi, UN Resident Coordinator ai and Representative of UNICEF in Rwanda. “This is why UNICEF is proud to be behind Rwanda in this effort to improve maternal and child health,” he added.

While Rwanda has made significant progress in reducing the number of children under five who die from preventable causes – from 196 per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 103 per 1,000 live births in 2007, maternal mortality – at 750 deaths per 100,000 live births remains high.

Mother and Child Health Weeks are organized routinely in several parts of the world, including Africa and have proven to be an effective way to deliver high-impact life saving interventions in a cost-effective manner. During this week in Rwanda, children under five years will be vaccinated against measles and polio, and depending on their age, some will receive Vitamin A capsules to boast their immunity along with mebendazole – to fight parasitic infections. In some cases deworming interventions will also reach children already in school.

More than 45,000 people including volunteers, community health workers and local leaders have been mobilized to make this week a success. They will ensure that over 1.5 million children and women are brought to vaccination sites and service delivery posts around the country.

The United Nations in Rwanda and especially UNICEF, WHO and UNFPA have assisted the Government of Rwanda to put in place logistics, enhanced supervision and monitoring, and social mobilization for the campaign, as well as to purchase vaccines to reach every last child, including those that live in far-flung areas.

“We are very grateful to our donors, including the Measles Initiative and in particular the UN Foundation, that have helped to make this integrated measles campaign and Mother and Child Week possible,” explained Dr. Foumbi.

The Measles Initiative is a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally. Launched in 2001, the Initiative—led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the World Health Organization—provides technical and financial support to governments and communities on vaccination campaigns and disease surveillance worldwide. The Initiative has supported the vaccination of more than 600 million children in more than 60 countries helping reduce measles deaths by 74 per cent globally and 89 per cent in Africa (compared to 2000).

For more information please contact:
Misbah M. Sheikh, Chief of Communication,
Tel +250788300731,
E-mail: msheikh@unicef.org

Cyriaque Ngoboka, Communication Specialist,
Tel + 250 788 30 52 21,
E-mail: cngoboka@unicef.org




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