Maputo- Mozambique (PANA) -- The Mozambican health authorities Monday, with the s upport of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other partners, launch e d the second phase of "National Child Health Week", with the goal of vaccinating 3.
5 million children under the age of five against measles and giving them vitam i n A supplements.
In addition, 2.
7 million children will be de-wormed, during the week, while mosq uito nets treated with long-lasting insecticide will be distributed to over 700, 0 00 children in the country's most populous province, Nampula.
The first phase was held from 31 March to 4 April, during which over 2.
8 million children received vitamin A supplements while more than 1.
9 children were de-wo r med.
4 million children were checked for malnutrition and in those parts of the country noted for iodine deficiency (Niassa, Nampula, Tete and Zambezia pro v inces), over 420,000 children received iodine supplements.
Mozambique is well on the way to eliminating measles.
A measles vaccination campaign in 2005 led to a 97 per cent reduction in measles cases between 2004 and 2007.
Nonetheless, the health authorities fear that the routine vaccinations do not re ach enough children to permanently break the chain of transmission of the measle s virus, hence the decision to put measles vaccination at the top of this week's a ctivities.
The latest data revealed that a shocking 69 per cent of Mozambican children suff er from vitamin A deficiency and this can lower resistance to the measles virus, as well as to diarrhea and acute respiratory infections.
It also stunts growth a n d impairs vision.
The vitamin supplement and the removal of parasites through de-worming can both have significant impacts on child survival rates.
The purpose of the initiative is described as "to accelerate national progress i n reducing neonatal and infant mortality rates and to promote family health in M o zambique through multi-sector interventions, thus contributing towards achieving the targets of the Millennium Development Goals".
One of these goals, adopted by UN at the millennium summit in 2000 is to cut the mortality rate among under fives by two thirds between 1990 and 2015.
The campaign started smoothly in most of the country, but in the district of Nam acurra, in the central province of Zambezia, a group of civil servants were arre s ted for stealing 200,000 meticais (about US$ 8,300) intended for the campaign.
T h e number of arrests made was not clear.
According to a report in Tuesday's issue of the Maputo daily Noticias, this was not allowed to derail the campaign in Namacurra.
The Zambezia Provincial Health Directorate replaced the stolen money and the pro vincial chief doctor, Joana Nachaque, told reporters the vaccinations started o n time.