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UNICEF Says Angola's Children Have Little Chance Of Receiving Good Health Care And Education - 2003-01-24

The United Nations Children's Fund has released the most comprehensive survey ever done on the situation of children in Angola, a country just beginning to recover from more than two decades of civil war. The survey shows Angola's children have little chance of obtaining good health care or education.

The survey, conducted during a six-month period among 66-hundred households, shows that Angola has one of the world's worst child mortality rates, with 25 percent of all children dying before their fifth birthday.

The survey finds that 45 percent of children under five are chronically malnourished and only 27 percent of one-year olds are fully immunized against preventable diseases.

UNICEF communications officer Ken Page says the survey also shows that 44 percent of Angola's children do not go to primary school. He says the consequences of this are enormous.

He says, "We know from many studies that children -- and girls particularly that do not go to school, do not get an education, but later on become mothers -- their children will likely not go to school. If they are not educated, they will not know so much about health protection, hygiene -- proper hygiene -- and, of course, the issue of H-I-V / AIDS also is very important in Angola."

Mr. Page says the Angolan government and UNICEF are launching two campaigns this year aimed at improving health and education in Angola.

He says a project is going ahead to get more than one-quarter-million Angolan children back to school. And, in April, the Ministry of Health begins Angola's first ever national measles campaign. Mr. Page says the goal is to immunize seven-million children against the disease, which is often fatal in the developing world.

He says, "Measles remains the leading cause of vaccine-preventable mortality in Angola. In the developed world, one in one-thousand children who get measles will die from it. In Angola, 100 out of one-thousand children who get measles will die from that disease."

UNICEF officials say, now that Angola's civil war is over, aid agencies will have better access to the country's children and the agencies will be able to use the information in the survey to target assistance to those areas where it is most needed.