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Children still grow up separated from their families in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

National Immunisation Campaign to Protect Children from Polio: 7-13 June

Print version
07 June 2010
Press release

TASHKENT, 7 June 2010. – The second round of the National Immunization Campaign against polio starts today in Uzbekistan to immunize approximately three million children 0-5 years old. WHO Regional Director for Europe Mrs. Zsuzsanna Jakab and UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and CIS, Mrs. Kirsi Madi took part in the launching of the campaign in the capital and Tashkent region.

The first official visit of Mrs. Zsuzsanna Jakab and Mrs. Kirsi Madi is to assure the Government of Uzbekistan of WHO's and UNICEF’s support in preventing the importation of polio from bordering countries and to learn firsthand from national health authorities about the on-going nationwide polio immunization campaign.

Both WHO and UNICEF noted the timely action taken by Uzbekistan in response to the risk of polio importation, including high-quality mass immunization of children under five years of age, the quick reporting of strengthened acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases surveillance, and welcoming international expertise.

This national immunization drive against polio is led by the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan and supported by UNICEF, WHO and Global Partnership against Polio, including USAID, Centre for Diseases Control and Rotary International. More than 7,000 clinics, rural health centres and special vaccination points are involved in administering oral polio vaccine (OPV) to children across the country. Health workers will also undertake outreach activities and outreach teams will be deployed to visit homes in remote areas to immunize all children simultaneously.

The entire WHO European region, including Uzbekistan, was certified polio free in 2002. Through routine immunization services of the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan, the country has kept itself free of polio since then. However, with new confirmed polio cases in the Central Asia region recently, National Polio Immunization Days need to be held to eliminate the risk of importing the wild polio virus in to the country.

"Vaccination is the only effective way to protect children from polio," said Bakhtiyor Niyazmatov, Chief Sanitary Inspector, Deputy Minister of Health. "It is critical that every child under five years of age receives the polio vaccine during these immunization rounds."

UNICEF assisted the Ministry of Health by procuring 6.6 million doses of the oral polio vaccine for a target population of 2.9 million children during the campaign. It also produced over 2.6 million copies of communication materials along with TV and radio PSAs to inform families about the importance of getting their children immunized against polio. At the same time, WHO supported the Ministry of Health in planning of the campaign at all levels, and provided technical and financial assistance in training of vaccinators, monitors, and supervisors. Total amount of funds invested by UNICEF and WHO in supporting the National Immunization Days in Uzbekistan exceeded USD 2.5 mln.

Polio is a highly infectious disease which has no cure and can only be prevented by immunizing every child with the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) which is safe and effective. The polio vaccine is given in the form of two drops to each child, including newborns. The Oral Polio Vaccine has already has protected two billion children across the world from polio.

During the second round of the National Immunization Days parents should take every child under the age of five years, including newborns, to the closest health facility, clinic or immunization post to receive the polio vaccine drops in order to build the child’s immunity against polio. Children need to get immunized during campaign rounds even if they have been immunized against polio earlier. Every child not immunized during the polio campaign rounds is at risk and will also put the health of other children at risk. Polio immunization is free of cost.

The Ministry of Health and the polio immunization partners have called for full support of all sectors of society to reach every child during the National Immunization Days. The Ministry of Health, UNICEF and WHO have emphasized the crucial role of the media in mobilizing families and communities by providing timely and accurate information about the Polio campaign and the importance of getting every child under the age of five immunized.

For further information, please contact:

Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan: Dilorom Tursunova, Chief Specialist, tel.: +99871-2394721.

UNICEF Uzbekistan: Nigina Baykabulova, Communication Officer, tel.:+ 99871-2339512, 998993-3803419, e-mail: nbaykablova@unicef.org

WHO Uzbekistan: Vitaliy Stolyarov, Communication Consultant, tel.: +99871 2815172/73/74; +998 97 154 96 44, e-mail: vitaliy.stolyarov@gmail.com

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