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Eliminating Measles and Rubella in Armenia

© UNICEF/Armenia
A poster with UNICEF Armenia Goodwill Ambassador, singer Alla Levonyan and her two children.

Measles is the most common vaccine preventable cause of death worldwide among children and remains the fifth leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age. According to the World Health Organization, globally measles accounts for 10% of child mortality. In 2003 alone 30 million people worldwide were infected with measles, of whom 530 000 died, while in 2005, 345 000 people died of this disease.

Rubella is a major cause of birth defects in children and if contracted during pregnancy often results in miscarriage or the birth of an infant with severe congenital defects, including deafness, blindness, mental retardation and heart disease. Health professionals say that every year more than 300 000 children get infected with rubella.

In Armenia elimination of measles and rubella remains a public health priority. The last measles outbreak was reported in Armenia in 2004-2005, when over 4 000 people got infected with this disease.

Studies undertaken among various age groups in Armenia confirm that the risk of spread of the disease remains high. It should be noted that the age of those contracting measles has considerably increased, with 75% of those infected with the disease being over 10 years and 59% over 15 years old.

Official data suggests that in Armenia child mortality caused by measles has dropped almost 20-fold. However, taking into consideration the periodicity of measles epidemic, if no preventive actions are undertaken, the next outbreak of the disease will be inevitable.

WHO jointly with other international organizations, including UNICEF, implements a global strategy for elimination of measles and rubella and Armenia is also a party to this strategy. In particular, elimination of measles and rubella in the country and prevention of congenital rubella syndrome is part of public health strategy of Armenia. The elimination of measles and rubella can be achieved through continuous implementation of the national immunization schedule coupled with additional mass vaccination campaign.

The Government of Armenia endorsed measles and rubella elimination national strategy for 2007-2010 following which 1,200,000 people aged 6-27 will be vaccinated against measles and rubella between 1-13 October, 2007.

© UNICEF/Armenia/Igor Dashevskiy
A teenage girl receives her measles and rubella vaccine at a policlinic in Ijevan, Tavoush region, about 140 km of capital Yerevan.

UNICEF’s Support for the Measles & Rubella Campaign

UNICEF together with other partners has been actively supporting the Measles & Rubella Campaign in Armenia through provision of Measles and Rubella vaccines and other supplies and contribution to the social mobilization activities.

In particular, UNICEF delivered about 1,500,000 doses of Measles and Rubella combined vaccine, 1,500,000 auto-disable syringes to ensure safe injections, a cold room, 97 refrigerators, and 3,500 vaccine carriers with icepacks to ensure proper storage and transportation of vaccines and 1,800 first aid kits.

In addition, UNICEF provided technical expertise in development and implementation of social mobilization and awareness raising activities, helping to

  • shape key messages for target groups,
  • design print materials such as posters, flyers
  • develop scripts for Public Service Announcements
  • develop guides for teachers
  • involve UNICEF Armenia Goodwill Ambassador, singer Alla Levonyan in the campaign
  • distribute mass communication materials



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