28 November 2006 With malaria the main cause of illness and death in Guinea-Bissau in both adults and children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is supporting the first nationwide campaign in the small West African country to distribute insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
Vitamin A supplementation and the de-worming of children with Mebendazole is also part of the drive that aims at reaching all children under five years old, some 16 per cent of the total population of some 1.5 million people.
“The loss of any life is hard, mainly when the victim is a child who dies from a preventable disease, such as malaria,” UNICEF Bissau Representative Jean Dricot said.
“Even when the child does not die, the consequences of constant illness due to malaria affect negatively the growth and development of the child, impacting in its social life. The use of impregnated mosquito nets can reduce child mortality up to 20 per cent,” he added.
UNICEF is investing in the Accelerated Child Survival and Development Initiative to demonstrate how low-cost key interventions, such as vaccination, supplementation with Vitamin A and the use of insecticide treated mosquito nets can halt deaths among children under five from preventable diseases.
The Icelandic Committee for UNICEF is the major partner of UNICEF in Guinea-Bissau for the implementation of the Initiative, with more than $800,000 allocated for the nets distribution campaign.