The Government of Canada has donated $5.5 million (Canadian) to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) for a major measles vaccination campaign in Angola, where a recent peace deal has led to the opening of regions not accessible to aid agencies for years.
"This generous gift from Canada will truly be a life-saver," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. "With this measles campaign, millions of children will be protected from this killer disease - most for the first time. And millions of families across Angola will see that peace has real benefits."
According to UNICEF, measles is the first cause of vaccine-preventable mortality in Angola and one of the leading killers of Angolan children. The nationwide measles campaign, to be launched late this summer, will help the Government of Angola, UNICEF and WHO to reduce the number of measles cases and deaths by at least 75 per cent over the next five years.
In the previous half-decade, the average measles immunization coverage in Angola stood at about 50 per cent, well below the 90 per cent level necessary to control the disease. A recent survey showed that only 91 of 164 municipalities were providing routine vaccination.
The ratio of children who die from measles in Angola is 100 times that of developed countries, with up to 30,000 measles deaths among children every year. In recent years, Angola suffered the third-highest child mortality rate in the world, with a quarter of all children dying before they reach their fifth birthday. On average, children under five die at a rate of 18 per hour in Angola.