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Regional Goodwill Ambassador Mahmoud Kabil helps launch polio campaign in Mauritania

Mauritania participating in 16-country synchronized polio campaign across west and central Africa

NOUAKCHOTT/ MAURITANIA, 29 April 2010- Egyptian actor and UNICEF Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Middle East and North Africa Mahmoud Kabil concluded a four-day visit to Mauritania in which he supported the launch of a regional synchronised anti-polio campaign for west and central Africa.

More than 10% of children in Mauritania die before the age of 5 and more than 25% of children below 1 are not vaccinated against polio, a highly infectious disease that is caused by a virus and can cause total paralysis.

“It is unacceptable that children are still suffering from a preventable disease, especially since Mauritania was close to eradicating the virus", said Mahmoud Kabil. “It has unfortunately come back to Mauritania and all should understand the polio vaccine is perfectly safe, easy to deliver and potentially life-saving".

The GWA’s visit was in connection with a regional synchronized anti-polio campaign, covering 16 countries.The campaign was launched in Mauritania by President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, with strong support by UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

UNICEF Representative in Mauritania Christian Koog stressed that only strong cooperation between all sectors and UN agencies can eradicate the disease: “This unprecedented mobilization to fight polio would not be possible without UNICEF's and WHO's technical and financial assistance and the regional Goodwill Ambassador’s contribution.”

Mahmoud Kabil met with the Minister of Health Sheikh Ould Horma Ould Babana and a number of national and local officials to support the campaign and advocate for child rights in the country.

He also visited national NGOs and UNICEF partners working on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting and met with children formerly involved in camel racing, in the framework of the rehabilitation project spearheaded by the government of the United Arab Emirates and UNICEF, which Kabil described as a sad story with a happy ending.

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 about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

For further information, please contact:
Brahim Ould Isselmou,UNICEF Nouakchott, Email: bouldisselmou@unicef.org,Tel.: +222-5299803
Charbel Raji, UNICEF regional office for Middle East and North Africa, Email: craji@unicef.org, Tel.: +962-6-5502422




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