6 October 2009The third Mother and Child Health Week, backed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has kicked off in Rwanda with a twist, with the campaign immunizing children against measles for the first time in the African Great Lakes nation. The third Mother and Child Health Week, backed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has kicked off in Rwanda with a twist, with the campaign immunizing children against measles for the first time in the African Great Lakes nation.Measles accounts for less than 2 per cent of deaths of children under the age of five in Rwanda, but “we have to ensure that children continue to remain protected from this life-threatening illness,” said Joseph Foumbi, UN Resident Coordinator ad interim and UNICEF Representative in the country.Rwanda has made strides in slashing by half the number of under-five child deaths from preventable causes, from 196 per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 103 live births in 2007, UNICEF said in a press release issued in the district of Bugesera.The Health Weeks, which are held in several regions of the world, have proven to be an effective way to save lives at a low cost.During the drive in Rwanda this week, children under five will be vaccinated against measles and polio, with some also receiving Vitamin A capsules to boost their immune systems and mebendazole to fight parasitic infections.Over 45,000 people – volunteers, community health workers and local leaders – will fan out across the country to ensure that more than 1.5 million women and children are brought to vaccination sites and health centres to receive care. read more