Philippine rebels back vaccine deal

"Days of Peace" campaign to vaccinate 30,000 children against preventable diseases.

    Under the deal MILF leaders have pledged to provide safe access and security to Unicef workers [EPA]

    "We would like our people to accept the program as among the fruits of the ongoing peace process"

    Al Haj Murad Ebrahim,
    MILF chairman

    Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, chairman of the MILF, said the health campaign should be seen as a component of the ongoing Malaysian-brokered peace process with the Philippine government.
    "We would like our people to accept the programme as among the fruits of the ongoing peace process," Murad said in a statement.
    Genuine peace, he said, "is not only the silencing of the gun but most importantly the absence of all forms of injustices, oppression and exploitation at the same time, the upholding of mutual respect to each and everyone's honour, dignity and belief".
    Under a deal with Unicef, the UN's children's fund, the MILF has pledged to "provide access and guarantee security" to the medical teams.
    Nicholas Alipui, Unicef representative in the Philippines, said apart from immunisations, the programme would provide nutrient supplements, counselling and medicine to families.
    'Same rights'
    About 16,500 pregnant mothers also will be vaccinated against tetanus, he said, while about 150,000 children will receive deworming medication and vitamin A supplements.
    The campaign will target about 500 communities in southern Mindanao formerly inaccessible because of the conflict.
    "For us, all children everywhere have the same rights all the time," Alipui said.
    Additional campaigns in June and July will have health workers registering births and educating people about malaria control, Unicef said.
    Mindanao, the country's second-largest island, is among the poorest regions of the Philippines.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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