National immunization campaign against measles and rubella started in Tajikistan
DUSHANBE, Tajikistan - 28 September 2009 – Saving children’s lives and ensuring their healthy development is the aim of the national immunization campaign against measles and rubella which starts in Tajikistan today. Almost 2.5 million children aged one to 14 years will be immunized against measles and rubella during the two-week campaign.
Speaking at the campaign launch event in Dushanbe on 26 September, Lola Bobokhojaeva, Head of the Tajik Presidents’ Office department on health, youth and family affairs, said: “Health protection is among key priorities of the Government. We hope that this campaign will contribute significantly to ensuring healthy development of children in the country.”
UNICEF Representative in Tajikistan Ms. Hongwei Gao added, “Timely immunization against childhood illnesses is an important and proven tool to prevent illness and to improve health and well-being of children.”
UNICEF has supported the Government campaign by supplying vaccines, auto-disable syringes, cold and safety boxes, and cold-chain equipment for safe vaccine storage and distribution. UNICEF is also leading communication and social mobilization campaign to inform the society about the campaign, and has prepared education materials such as posters, leaflets, and TV and radio spots.
The country-wide immunization campaign is implemented by the Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF and World Health Organization. The vaccination is taking place in policlinics, schools, boarding schools and pre-school institutions throughout the country.
Measles, the viral respiratory infection, remains the most deadly vaccine-preventable childhood disease killing globally over 663 people every day and 27 people in an hour. Measles weakens the immune system and renders children very susceptible to fatal complications from diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition. Those that survive may suffer blindness, deafness or brain damage. Last major outbreak of measles in Tajikistan took place in 2002-2003 with more than 3,000 cases reported by the Ministry of Health.
Rubella, a disease that causes a mild rash if contracted in childhood, often leads to serious and sometimes fatal complications in the unborn child when a previously uninfected woman acquires the infection early in pregnancy. Congenital rubella infections are preventable through immunization. As part of the campaign, rubella vaccine will be introduced into childhood immunization programme for the first time in Tajikistan.
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