5 June 2003

Millions of children vaccinated against measles

Angola's National Measles Campaign is being hailed as a success, with 7.6 million children being vaccinated against the disease which is responsible for the death of ten thousand young Angolans. Currently, out of those children that do contract measles, one in ten die as a result - as compared with one in a thousand in developed countries. The campaign, launched in April, aims to vaccinate all children under the age of 15.

The campaign was run by the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, the World Health Organisation and the Red Cross. Meeting the campaign's target is a considerable success given the inaccessibility of much of the country, due to dilapidated infrastructure and the threat of landmines. However, according to UNICEF, "using military helicopters, personnel carriers, cargo planes and 4WDs, remote communities across Angola are being protected against the country's biggest vaccine-preventable killer of children".

However, a lack of funding from international donors threatens the future of the campaign. As part of plans to keep up the immunisation programme, cold chains were to be established so that vaccines can be kept cold as they are distributed around the country.

According to the United Nations mid-term review of the 2003 Consolidated Inter-agency Appeal for Angola, "as a result of under-funding for vaccines and routine Expanded Programme for Immunisation (EPI) activities, agencies are unable to build on the momentum generated by the nation-wide measles campaign. Unless funding is urgently received, agencies will be unable to maintain cold chains, train cold chain managers, provide basic materials to newly established health posts and expand treatment for mothers and children". (Angola Peace Monitor)

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