Uzbekistan launches National Immunisation Days against Polio
TASHKENT, 10 May 2010. – A target population of approximately 2.89 million children 0-5 years old is expected to be immunised during the two nationwide immunisation campaign rounds against polio from 17 to 23 May and 7 to 13 June 2010.
This national immunisation drive against polio is led by the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan and supported by UNICEF and WHO. More than 7,000 clinics, rural health centres and special vaccination points will administer oral polio vaccine (OPV) to children across the country during this polio immunisation campaign. Health workers will undertake outreach activities and outreach teams will be deployed to visit homes in remote areas to immunise all children simultaneously.
The entire WHO European region, including Uzbekistan, was certified polio free in 2002. Through routine immunisation services of the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan, the country has kept itself free of polio since then. However, with new confirmed polio cases in the Central Asia region recently, National Polio Immunisation Days need to be held to eliminate the risk of importing the wild polio virus in to the country.
"Vaccination is the only effective way to protect children from polio," said Bakhtiyor Niyazmatov, Chief Sanitary Inspector, Deputy Minister of Health. "It is critical that every child under five years of age receives the polio vaccine during these immunisation rounds."
Polio is a highly infectious disease which has no cure and can only be prevented by immunizing every child with the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) which is safe and effective. The polio vaccine is given in the form of two drops to each child, including newborns. The Oral Polio Vaccine has already has protected two billion children across the world from polio.
As Savita Varde-Naqvi, Officer-in-Charge of UNICEF Uzbekistan informed during the press conference, UNICEF has procured 3.3 million doses of the WHO prequalified polio vaccine for the first round from 17 to 23 May and will procure another 3.3 million doses for the second one that will be held in the country from 7 to 13 June.
Under the leadership of the Ministry and with technical support of WHO, UNICEF has also contributed in terms of producing banners, posters and flyers to reach the information about the polio campaign to all the regions, rayons and villages of Uzbekistan. Ms. Varde-Naqvi stressed that UNICEF stands committed to support the Government of Uzbekistan and work alongside WHO and other partners to ensure that polio does not come to Uzbekistan and all Uzbek children are protected against polio.
During the National Immunisation Days parents should take every child under the age of five years, including newborns, to the closest health facility, clinic or immunization post to receive the polio vaccine drops in order to build the child’s immunity against polio. Children need to get immunised during campaign rounds even if they have been immunized against polio earlier. Every child not immunized during the polio campaign rounds is at risk and will also put the health of other children at risk. Polio immunisation is free of cost.
The Ministry of Health and the polio immunisation partners have called for full support of all sectors of society to reach every child during the National Immunisation Days. The Ministry of Health, UNICEF and WHO have emphasised the crucial role of the media in mobilising families and communities by providing timely and accurate information about the Polio campaign and the importance of getting every child under the age of five immunised.