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67 million children

Were not attending primary school in 2011, 53 per cent girls.

Making an IMPACT: Dilorom Tursunova, Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan

Print version
28 April 2016
1 1 Photos

Dilorom Tursunova is the Deputy Head of the Department for Sanitary and Epidemiological Surveillance, Ministry of Health of the Republic of Uzbekistan. She has contributed significantly to the work of the Ministry to expand immunization coverage in Uzbekistan. She shares her experiences with UNICEF.

You have been working at the Ministry of Health for 26 years. What have been the most important results achieved in the area of immunization for last 10 years? How did UNICEF support the immunization program in Uzbekistan during this period?

From the early years of Uzbekistan’s independence, the Ministry of Health has paid special attention to the issues of immunization of children. The child population of the country is over 10 million, and 98–99% of children are covered by immunization against preventable diseases. There was no single case registered with post-vaccination complication or severe adverse effects.

As new vaccines are being introduced, trainings have also been conducted for safe immunization. The skills of specialists has being improved. Annually, monitoring is conducted followed by discussions on issues of immune prophylaxis.

The government worked efficiently to ensure that all procurement processes for vaccines were completed on time, so that the supply of vaccines was interrupted in the last 10 years.

Support of UNICEF and WHO was critical for achieving the progress in the immunization program I would like to point out that UNICEF organized immediate response to outbreak of measles and polio in 2010–2011. Ten million doses of vaccines against measles and rubella were procured in time and delivered to healthcare facilities, and their proper storage was assured.

UNCIEF also facilitated trainings on safe immunization for vaccinators, pediatricians, general practitioners, epidemiologists and cold chain storages workers. All these activities helped to conduct quality and safe immunization of children.

A large number of banners, posters, and flyers were produced and distributed to all regions of the country in order to increase population awareness. Support from media was also mobilized to cover immunization related activities.

Ministry of Health and UNICEF jointly conducted monitoring of all activities. Thus, the importation and outbreak of polio, measles, and rubella into the territory of Uzbekistan was prevented.

A total of 15 heads of Expanded Program of Immunization were trained with UNICEF’s support. The specialists were trained on new technologies, skills and management of safe immunization. This work shall continue for the sake of healthy children and further development.

How does the Ministry of Health ensure full coverage of all children by vaccination, especially those living in special facilities, or living in remote areas, and also children with disabilities?

It is vital to make sure that during the immunization campaign, no child is left behind as per the national calendar. There are special regulating documents, in line with which vaccination groups go to field, especially to remote regions of the country.

Since children with disabilities belong to a risk group their vaccination is carried out on a priority. Annually 5,000 children with disabilities are vaccinated in the city of Tashkent alone. It is agreed with the management in advance and special teams go to vaccination of children with disabilities.

What are the future plans of the Government of Uzbekistan to ensure the sustainability of the immunization coverage? And how can UNICEF support the government?

Ministry of Health, along with other international organizations, is planning to develop a new plan for financial stability of vaccine supplies and submit it to the Ministry of Finance for approval.

We will work with UNICEF to strengthen the healthcare system using GAVI’s funds. We are eager to learn from good international practices on the issues of immune-prophylactics with a special attention to vaccine procurement, cold chain, safe immunization and introduction of new vaccines.

Training of healthcare providers through hands-on experience is also a part of joint plans of the Ministry of Health and UNICEF. Special attention will be paid to the joint monitoring of the ongoing work, as well as involving mass-media in awareness raining activities.

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