UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mahmoud Kabil backs African anti-polio efforts

Health workers administer oral polio vaccine

30 April 2010 – The Egyptian actor and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Goodwill Ambassador Mahmoud Kabil has helped launch an anti-polio campaign in Western and Central Africa where UNICEF and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) are working with governments and partners to eradicate the virus.

“It is unacceptable that children are still suffering from a preventable disease, especially since Mauritania was close to eradicating the virus,” said Mr. Kabil as he concluded a four-day visit to the West African country yesterday.

More than 10 per cent of Mauritanian children die before the age of five and at least 25 per cent of children below the age of one are not vaccinated against polio.

“All should understand the polio vaccine is perfectly safe, easy to deliver and potentially life-saving,” Mr. Kabil added about the latest anti-polio campaign covering 16 countries.

Mr. Kabil, who was named as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for the Middle East and North Africa in 2003, met with Mauritanian Health Minister Sheikh Ould Horma Ould Babana and a number of other national and local officials to support the campaign.

“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,” said Christian Koog, UNICEF’s Representative in Mauritania.

In addition to supporting the polio vaccination campaign, Mr. Kabil advocated for child rights while visiting Mauritania.

He visited national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UNICEF partners working on projects against female genital mutilation/cutting and met with children formerly involved in camel racing, part of a rehabilitation project spearheaded by the United Arab Emirates and UNICEF.

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