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News note

National diarrhoea week gets underway in Afghanistan

Aim to reduce risk from major child killer

KABUL, 25 May 2003 -- This week is National Diarrhoea Prevention Week in Afghanistan, a country where diarrhoeal disease is responsible for over 50 per cent of deaths amongst children under the age of five. The summer months are traditionally those when the disease is at its height, and so prevention campaigns are of critical importance in reducing the risk of death at this time of year.

Already this year, the incidence of diarrhoeal disease in Kabul has begun to increase with more new cases being reported every week based on monitoring undertaken by the Afghan Ministry of Health. Last year, over 6,000 cases per week were reported in the capital alone – 50 per cent of cases were recorded amongst children under the age of five.

Diarrhoea Prevention Week is an initiative led by the Afghan Ministry of Health, in partnership with The Ministry of Rural Reconstruction and Development, The Ministry of Education, The Ministry of Religious Affairs and with the support of UNICEF, international NGOs and other agencies. The week aims to bring health and hygiene messages to the population, providing information and advice to households on how to reduce the risk of being affected by diarrhoeal disease.

Amongst the activities planned nationwide are a series of household health promotion programmes, through which teams of health educators will visit communities to discuss issues such as safe food preparation, the importance of safe drinking water, disposal of refuse and human waste and personal hygiene. In Kabul, a number of public campaigns will be undertaken by local drama groups and a children’s circus.

Media are invited to attend the performance of the children’s circus – one of the most colourful and entertaining activities during Diarrhoea Prevention Week – which is visiting schools across Kabul every day this week. In addition, media are welcome to join health promotion teams working in households throughout the capital. Interested journalists should contact UNICEF in order to arrange visits to the circus and household health promotion activities.

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For further information please contact us:

Chulho Hyun, UNICEF Afghanistan, Kabul: +93 (0) 702 78493
Edward Carwardine, UNICEF-Media, Kabul +93 (0)702 74729
Kate Donovan, UNICEF/New York, (1-212) 326-7516, mjalloh@unicef.org




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