Angola mobilises army to fight polio

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- Angola has mobilised its army and medical staff who formerly worked for UNITA rebels to carry out a nationwide vaccination of children against polio.
"Our goal is to eradicate polio from the country by 2005," Angola's Deputy Minister for Health, Dr Jose Vieira Dias Van Dunem said here Friday in an interview with PANA.
"We are making remarkable progress.
Current results are encouraging and show us that we are on the right track," he said.
Van Dunem, who is attending the 2nd Partners' Meeting of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) in Dakar, said: "Since the beginning of this year we have not recorded a case of polio.
" He said the government-led immunisation campaign is directed to areas that were controlled by the former rebel movement, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).
"With the return of peace to the country, we have mobilised the army and mobile health teams in zones which were under rebel control, but it is not an easy task because of the poor condition of roads and health infrastructure," he explained.
"In the camps where families of UNITA ex-combatants have assembled, we are conducting an immunization campaign against major childhood diseases, including polio, tetanus and measles, in addition to making follow-ups on the status of pregnant women.
" According to Van Dunem, maternal and child mortality are the leading scourges that are still devastating the country.
He said perinatal tetanus was killing many women in Angola.
Angola's fight against preventable diseases is compounded by the prevalence of sleeping sickness in seven northern provinces, including the capital, Luanda.
"Sleeping sickness is part of our major challenges.
This is why the government has put eradication of the disease among priorities of the health sector over the next two years," Van Dunem said.

22 november 2002 21:03:00

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