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Universal immunisation key to Myanmar childhood disease-free future say Japan Committee for Vaccines and UNICEF

© UNICEF/NYHQ2008-0575/MYO THAME
A midwife administers a measles vaccine to a two-year-old toddler held by his mother.

YANGON, October 11, 2013 - On the occasion of a Japan Committee for Vaccines (JCV) visit to Myanmar (7 – 11 October), JCV and UNICEF joined forces to highlight the importance of universal immunisation across Myanmar with the people of Japan pledging increased support to Myanmar in the interests of nationwide vaccinations. During the visit, JVC and UNICEF visited key immunisation sites run by the Myanmar Ministry of Health supported with generous funding from the Japanese people.

Each year globally, immunisation prevents an estimated 2-3 million deaths from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and measles - life-threatening diseases that disproportionately affect children. Measles alone continues to kill approximately 430 children each day across Asia and Africa. In Myanmar, experience suggests low immunisation coverage – even where isolated and sporadic - can result in the re-emergence of previously contained diseases such as polio.

“We are here in Myanmar this week because universal immunisation significantly influences child mortality rates. Approximately 29 per cent of deaths in children under five each year are vaccine preventable,” said JCV Director-General Mr. Michiyoshi Oishi.

Universal immunisation is an essential, cost-effective public health intervention. Reducing under 5 and under 1 year old mortality - one of the UN Millennium Development Goals and a strong commitment by the Government of Myanmar– necessitates nationwide vaccination programming. “JVC is committed to further assisting the Myanmar Government and the people of Myanmar in facilitating the tremendously important goal of universal immunisation,” said Mr Oishi.

JCV has worked in Myanmar over the past 16 years contributing vaccines and associated equipment. Since 1950, UNICEF has been delivering vaccinations and related-services - including over the years in close partnership with JCV. UNICEF currently provides technical and financial support to the Myanmar Government in the interests of nationwide vaccinations.

JCV and UNICEF jointly welcomed the Myanmar Government’s express commitment to ensuring universal immunisation including in the interests of preventing epidemics. “Disease knows no borders. Immunisation services have the potential to unite communities around the common goal of protecting all children from potential death and crippling maladies” said Mr. Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative in Yangon.

“Every child has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, free from discrimination and regardless of - for example - their nationality, ethnicity, religion or birth status. JVC and UNICEF are working together with the Myanmar Government in its efforts to uphold this commitment,” added Mr Bainvel.

JVC’s activities – including those undertaken in partnership with UNICEF – are generously supported by the people of Japan. “As good neighbours, people from all walks of life across Japan kindly donate to JCV in the hope that Myanmar’s children will grow up healthy and happy,” said Mr Oishi. “Thanks to JCV and the people of Japan we are all able to look forward to the day when Myanmar becomes childhood disease-free,” added Mr Bainvel.

About JCV

JCV has been supporting universal immunisation across Myanmar since 1996 when two immunisation specialists were first dispatched. Since 1997, JCV has provided polio vaccines on National Immunisation Days (NIDs) and Sub-National immunisation Days (SNIDs) in addition to supporting the Mass Measles Campaign (2007) and Tetanus Toxoid (TT) Supplementary Immunisation Activities (SIAs). JCV also supports vaccines for routine immunisation such as BCG, OPV and TT, injection devices, cold chain equipment, bicycles and motorcycles. JCV has contributed significantly to interrupting the transmission of the wild polio virus in Myanmar. JCV also enabled the validation of Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Eliminated (MNTE) status in 2010. Moreover, JCV provided vaccines, injection devices, cold chain and other equipment continues to assist the Myanmar Government in maintaining high-level routine immunisation coverage nationally. JCV has contributed a total of US$8.5 million from 1996 to 2004 and from 2008 to 2013 to the universal immunisation of Myanmar’s children. JCV is a non-profit organization, established in January 1994, operating under the "Children's Vaccines Initiative (CVI)" founded in 1990 by UNICEF, WHO, UNDP, The Rockefeller Foundation and the World Bank.

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: http://www.unicef.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information, please contact:

Kirsten Sjolander, Interim-in-Charge, Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: +95 9 421 177 294 (m), ksjolander@unicef.org.
Ye Lwin Oo, Communication Officer, Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 095113 295 (m), Tel: 01-230 5960 – 230 5969, Ext: 1448, ylwinoo@nicef.org.
Note: This press release will also be shared in the Myanmar language on Friday, 11 October 2013.

 

 
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