Catch –up immunization of Roma children – Reducing the number of risks by one
“Ali is my sixth child. They are all immunized now. We live very hard, but at least I am sure my children will not get one of these diseases”, said 26-years old Amira, beautiful Roma mother, who brought her baby and two older daughters to the Primary School in Modricki Lug, to get the vaccines they have missed.
Modricki Lug is a small settlement in Republika Srpska, with large number of Roma inhabitants. On April 15th, the Immunisation Day has been organized in the local primary school. Thirty Roma children were immunized with vaccines they did not received before, in accordance with their age and the immunization calendar.
Catch-up immunization became an integral part of the European Immunisation Week in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is the fifth year in which, the Ministries of Health and Institutes of Public Health, supported by UNICEF and WHO, mark the week with events aimed to promote universal immunization. European Immunisation Week will be officially marked in BiH, from April 24 to April 30.
However, the catch-up immunization started earlier. “We have initiated the catch-up immunization with Roma population now, knowing they might migrate soon, because of the spring and summer time.” said Dr. Mitar Tesanovic, Chief Epidemiologist in the Republika Srpska. Another population to focus on through the immunization activities this year are teenagers. They will graduate in May, and would be difficult to reach after they leave the school. “We are about to start with the catch-up immunization through schools, to decrease the risks of rubella that recently outbreak among young population in BiH.” Dr. Tesanovic added.
Roma children in BiH are especially vulnerable population, facing the risks of poverty, malnutrition, health risks and limited enrollment in schools.