Mumps epidemic affected more than 4.500 young people from Moldova
Chisinau, February 5, 2008 - Starting with December 2007 Moldova has been facing an epidemic of mumps. There are some 4,500 children and young people infected. Geographically, most affected is the capital city Chisinau, where big groups of young people are concentrated in universities and high schools, while the epidemic is rapidly spreading to other regions. For the moment, it affected more than t 10 out of 32 rayons.
Most new cases (80%) are registered among young people aged 15 -24, mostly college and university students, while the proportion of those aged 7-14 constitutes 14%. The majority of cases affect young people born in the period from 1985 to1994, who were vaccinated with only one dose of vaccine, according to the vaccination calendar applied before year 2002.
The infection is notorious for its complications, out of which the most severe are the sterility in males. The epidemic in Moldova affected this fare the pancreas in 50% of cases, and male reproductive system in 30% of cases. The proportion of males who contracted mumps is 65%. A half of those infected are admitted to the hospitals. To cope with the increasing number of hospitalized patients, the Government provided extra beds in hospitals, but the existing means do not satisfy the increasing demand for isolating more patients.
The forecast of the epidemic is difficult. However, the multi-year analysis of the mumps morbidity reveals a pattern, with greater number of cases in November and the peak of morbidity in March – April, which gradually subsides by August.
According to the expert opinion of the WHO regional consultants, supported by the national experts, the only solution to stop the Mumps epidemic is to revaccinate the population aged 13-23, covering with one dose of Mumps vaccine 95 per cent of children and youth born during 1989-1994 (approx. 400,000 persons) and students in colleges and universities (approx. 170,000 persons). To carry out the Campaign, the Ministry of Health needs 600,000 doses of vaccine, syringes and safety boxes.
Considering the current epidemiological situation and the financial difficulties, the Ministry of Health addressed donors for financial assistance in order to launch an emergency Immunization Campaign. The cost of necessary vaccine amounts to 13 million lei (1,2 millions USD) and the total cost of the Immunization Campaign is 1,9 million USD.
“This is a huge amount of money”, says Ion Ababii, the Minister of Health. “Especially, if we take into account that only 7.5 million lei (682,000 USD) have been allocated for this year’s immunization programme. Furthermore, it is extremely hard to find this vaccine. We have struggled to look for it abroad and managed to find 150,000 vaccines, but they will get to us in a month at best.”
The mumps epidemic, particularly fundraising for vaccine procurement is also one of UNICEF’s priorities. “We supported the Moldovan Government in 1996, when the country was hit by a diphtheria epidemic”, says the UNICEF Moldova Chief of the Equitable Access to Quality Services Programme, Svetlana Stefanet. “Moreover, UNICEF has supported the immunization program around the country from the very beginning. Although the mumps has not resulted in any victims yet, the extent of the problem and the risks it bears for the children’s health cannot leave us indifferent.”
"National health authorities from Moldova have notified rapidly World Health Organization about the mumps outbreak, and currently are sharing all relevant epidemiological and laboratory data”, mentioned the Head of WHO Moldova Country Office, Dr. Pavel Ursu. “This is extremely important in order to engage the WHO experts in the response actions and find adequate technical solutions for this public health emergency. Ministry of Health, UNICEF and WHO have already initiated a number of joint actions to control the epidemic spread of the disease in the most effective and cost-efficient way", said Dr. Pavel Ursu.
Lina Bornaru, UNICEF Moldova Media Officer