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Immunization Campaign Helps Afghan Mothers and Infants

On 18 September, a high-level Child Survival Symposium in New York galvanized action to reduce child deaths by two-thirds by 2015. An immunization campaign supported by UNICEF was launched recently in Afghanistan with two objectives: to reduce child measles mortality by 90 per cent and to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus. Afghanistan’s infant mortality rate is alarmingly high at over 25 per cent. Measles is a major cause of child death, and tetanus is a leading killer of mothers and their newborn babies. Every year millions children in Afghanistan die before the age of five. In the complex immunization effort now under way, more than 4 million children under five will be vaccinated against measles and an estimated 4.2 million women of child bearing age are to receive tetanus vaccine. Temporary immunization posts are being set up in villages across the country. Teams are also going from house to house to immunize women against tetanus.

In tandem with the UNICEF supported campaign, a community-based strategy for long-term health is being implemented to increase women’s and children’s access to basic health services, routine immunization and trained midwives. Diseases such as measles and tetanus can be easily prevented, and Afghanistan’s dual campaign to fight these diseases will ensure healthier lives for children and their mothers.

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