UNICEF supports $2 million campaign to immunise Rwandan children against measles

KIGALI, RWANDA, 18 February 2003: UNICEF is supporting a major campaign in Rwanda to immunise over 3 million children against measles. The campaign is part of a global initiative to reduce child mortality and morbidity caused by the disease. The campaign, which runs from 10th to 23rd February 2003, targets children age 9 months to 15 years. Children below 5 years will also receive a supplementary dose of vitamin A.
The campaign, which is supported by the Government of Rwanda, UNICEF, WHO, Red Cross and Centre for Disease Control (CDC), was launched at Nemba, in Ruhengeri Province, by the First Lady, Mrs Janette Kagame. She also broadcast an appeal to parents, urging them to ensure that they bring their children for vaccination.

Speaking at the launch, the UNICEF Representative, Mr. Theophane Nikyema, said "The present campaign is a tremendous public health initiative undertaken by the Government of Rwanda to promote the health of the population, most particularly of children whose healthy development is indispensable for the future prosperity of the Rwandan society. Protecting Rwandan children against measles is one of the simplest but most effective ways of making inroads into the country's high child mortality rate".

The two week campaign is the culmination of several months of careful planning and preparation, requiring the collaboration of several ministries and supporting organisations. In communities, volunteer health workers have moved from house to house to inform people of the campaign and ensure that no child is left out. Vaccination points have been set up in clinics across the country and mobile teams have gone from school to school to vaccinate the children.

UNICEF has provided all the necessary vaccines for the campaign, along with injection material and new equipment for keeping the vaccine cold up to the point of distribution. Radio and television announcements have been prepared and thousands of leaflets, posters and T-shirts printed, as part of a mass mobilisation campaign. In all, some $2,145,331 have been spent on the campaign. Funding was provided by CDC.

Initial results at the end of the first week of the campaign are highly encouraging, with some health districts already having reached 100% coverage. The second week will ensure that this figure is approached throughout the country, so that children in Rwanda no longer have to suffer the effects of this deadly disease.

For further information, please contact:

The Representative, UNICEF, B.P. 381, Kigali, Rwanda
Telephone: 250-573209, Fax: 250-573024,
e-mail:;; or