Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks at the Launch of a Campaign to Save Lives in Cross River State

Remarks of the U.S. Ambassador Robin Renée Sanders at the
Launch of a Campaign to Save Lives in Cross River State

December 11, 2008
Abuja, Nigeria

All protocols duly observed.

This is my second trip to Calabar and to Cross River State, the land of peace and tourism. Today, I am here for the children because they are the future of Nigeria. It is critical that we all support children's health issues, and certainly preventable ones like measles, polio and malaria. This flag off ceremony of the Integrated Measles Campaign is just one step in achieving the elimination of all preventative childhood diseases.

This Campaign is a shining example of how the government and people of the United States of America, through the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, are partnering with the government of Cross River State, as well as international partners such as the High Commission of Canada and the Canadian Red Cross, to invest in the people of this great state by providing access to quality health care services. This is a goal we all share.

Despite the existence of an effective vaccine against measles, the disease has continued to be one of the most devastating causes of morbidity and mortality in Nigeria. The World Health Assembly has the goal of reaching a 95% reduction in mortality by 2010. For Nigeria, an Integrated Measles Campaign was recommended to achieve this target. And this campaign is targeted to reach all children under the age of five. It will deliver vaccines against measles and polio, and provide a Vitamin A supplement.

To support the Government of Nigeria’s initiative- and Cross River State’s commitment- to reducing child morbidity and mortality, the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and in collaboration with the Canadian Red Cross, is also taking this opportunity to provide 116,000 long-lasting insecticide treated nets to all children under five years of age, in all 18 local government areas in Cross River State.

I want to talk a bit about malaria today as well. In Nigeria, malaria is responsible for the death of more than 300,000 children under five each year, and it accounts for over ten percent of all maternal deaths in this country. It is estimated that economic and social advancement, as well as approximately $1.2 billion dollars, are lost every year to malaria through the loss of productivity and costs related to treatment.

The challenge of reducing child morbidity and morality is enormous, which is why we have formed public-public and public-private partnerships with the government of Cross River State and several non-governmental organizations. Together we will use proven strategies to effectively deliver immunizations and insecticide treated nets to the people of Cross River State.

The U.S. Government is committed to investing in the people of Nigeria, and of Cross River State, and I assure you that we will follow your state's leadership towards supporting improved and accessible health care services for the people of this great state. I am happy to be a part of this flag-off event, officially launching the second phase of a nationwide initiative to combat measles and malaria in 17 southern and middle belt states. I commend you for your efforts, and I am confident that you will achieve your goal of access to quality health care services for the people of Cross River State. Congratulations and best of luck with this exciting initiative. Thank you.