Niger launches campaign against polio, malaria

Niamey- Niger (PANA) -- President Mamadou Tandja of Niger on Tuesday launched a nationwide campaign at Say, 50 km south of Niamey, whose objective is to reduce the impact of poliomyelitis and malaria among children and their mothers.
More than 10,000 health agents who will visit every homestead to vaccinate children aged 0-5 years against polio.
They will also give every mother of a vaccinated child an insecticide treated mosquito net to protect them against malaria, Some 2.
6 million insecticide treated nets will be distributed all over the country.
According to the National Programme against Malaria, 850,000 cases of the anopheles mosquito-caused disease are reported annually in Niger, where it is the major cause of morbidity.
Malaria killed more than 2,000 persons, mostly children below the age of five in Niger in 2004, according to the ministry of public health.
"The morbidity and mortality dues to malaria is partly cause by the widespread and gravity of the disease, negligence of treatment, lack of respect for prescriptions and lack of access to medicine in certain parts of the country," explained Dr Dr Halilou Issa, who works in Niamey.
Meanwhile, health authorities in Niger have so far organised 23 vaccination rounds against polio.
However, Niger is among countries where the poliovirus still prevails due to the movement of people between Niger and Nigeria.
The fight against polio in the neighbouring country was stopped for a certain period when extremist Islamic fundamentalists claimed that vaccination was a ploy by Europeans to reduce birth rates in Africa.
Eight cases of the poliovirus were detected in Niger this year, 25 in 2005 and 40 cases in 2003.
According to a survey carried out by UNICEF, only 6% of children sleep under a mosquito net in Niger, where only 15% of them have been fully vaccinated in rural areas and 61% in urban zones.
Niger's health cover stands at 32%, while each doctor is supposed to cater for 32,000 inhabitants.

21 december 2005 12:36:00

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