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2007.08.14

* Train delivers malaria bed nets to families
* 11 Aug 2007


Pulling out all the stops against malaria -- the Congolese Minister of Health blows the whistle and the train is off on an historic journey. Carrying hundreds of thousands of insecticide treated bed nets on board, the train trip from Pointe Noire to the capital, has opened the door for a major health campaign to save the lives of Congolese children. It’s been a huge undertaking from the Atlantic port in containers unloading and reloading wagons. But donations from Japan, the US fund, support from Congolese Railroad Company and government, all helped UNICEF get the campaign rolling out against the biggest killer of children here.

Soundbite (French), Emilienne Raoul, Minister of Health, Social Policy and Family, Congo: “It is really innovative, it’s a very, very new initiative by launching this train we are saying that we are serious about the struggle against malaria.”
With armed police on board and draped in flags and banners for protection through the rebel-held Pool region, the train past the remains of some doomed trips dotted along the tracks.

Soundbite (English), Dr Koen Vanormelingen, UNICEF Representative, Congo: “On a regular schedule it would take a year to transport them, so we came up with the strategic partnership with the railroad company so we have now eight wagons loaded only with bed nets so they will be transported at one go. We will also continue pre-positioning the nets using trains trucks, planes and even boats.”

The reason for such big plans was plain to see at any hospital of clinic – only about five percent of pregnant women and children under five sleep under impregnated bed nets in Congo. Malaria is the major cause of sickness, low birth weight and death in children and dangerous anemia in pregnant women. By October half a million of long-lasting bed nets will be distributed.
Soundbite (French), Arlette Boungou, Mother, 28: “The nets we get at the market are not impregnated like these ….so now we are protected.”

Travelling nearly 600 kilo meters across rivers, lush tropical forests and dry savannah to busy Brazzaville, the train trip has put the country on track to protecting every child against preventable diseases and take Congo forward.


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