Volunteers from all walks of life, from traditional chiefs to scout group members to army officers, will take part in the scheme to combat measles, a persistent killer of children in the impoverished African nation.All children aged between nine months and 14 years will be vaccinated, with all children also receiving de-worming tablets and those aged below five given Vitamin A capsules.More than 7,000 vaccinators and at least 15,000 community mobilizers have been recruited to carry out the immunization scheme, which will start in schools and crèches before moving on to health centres and eventually going door-to-door.At a ceremony yesterday in the port city of Tamatave, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Monique van de Ven, a famous film actress in the Netherlands, helped launch the 25-day vaccination scheme with Madagascar’s President Mark Ravalomanana.In 2002 there were an estimated 350,000 measles cases across the country, where the risks of epidemic are high because two out of every five children are not completely immunized.UNICEF Madagascar Representative Barbara Bentein said the agency had started preparing for the vaccination scheme six months ago.”The way in which this campaign has succeeded in bringing together thousands of people, young and old, men and women, girls and boys, religious and traditional to join together in the largest mass mobilization effort ever is no less than extraordinary,” she said.
A veterinarian examines a dog Credit: Sergei Savostyanov Dog owners are no longer allowing pets to die as insurance industry figures show a rise in complex “super vet” procedures.Pet insurers paid out a record-breaking £785 million in 2018 to cover the unexpected costs of owning a pet, figures from the Association of British Insurers show.The jump in the cost was driven by a significant increase in the average claim size as veterinary treatment becomes increasingly sophisticated, the ABI said. The average claim cost climbed by £36 year-on-year to £793 in 2018.Over the past decade, the average claim has increased by 75 per cent, while the average premium has increased by 50 per cent, according to the ABI’s data. The ABI said some examples of claims include PetPlan paying out more than £40,000 for a terrier since its “covered for life” policy started in 2010. The terrier has had several treatments for a serious congenital lung disorder, the ABI said. Research by consumer analysts at Mintel found average pet insurance premiums for dogs rose 6 per cent to £324 in 2017, while cat cover went up 7 per cent to £171. By comparison the average home building and contents insurance policy now costs just £162 a year, according to the AA British Insurance Premium Index.Meanwhile it appears that pet owners are becoming more dissatisfied with the value of pet insurance as calls about it to the Financial Ombudsman, which oversees complaints about insurers, soared 113 per cent from 727 in 2013 to 1,554 in 2018.The ABI’s senior policy adviser for pet insurance, Joe Ahern, said: “There is no NHS for animals, so if you’ve not got a pet policy in place – you risk having to foot veterinary bills out of your own pocket.”These can often be in the thousands of pounds and vet treatment is only getting more expensive, not less.”It’s promising to see the average premium coming down regardless of this trend and I’m pleased to see our members paying out more than ever before to protect the wellbeing of pets across the country.” It also said Direct Line, another insurer, had recently helped a French bulldog that had fractured its leg, with the claim costing £7,300 in total. But average premiums were down slightly for the first time in eight years, at £279 in 2018 compared to £281 a year earlier. It comes as separate research found insuring pets can be more expensive than insuring a house and all its contents. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.