Tirana 27 April, 2018 - World Immunization Week is held each year at the end of April to promote the use of life-saving vaccines for all– particularly those children who are consistently excluded. The events organized during World Immunization Week are initiated by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, Institute of Public Health and supported by WHO and UNICEF.
The widespread implementation of immunization programmes over the past 30 years has led to a dramatic reduction in illness and death due to vaccine-preventable diseases. However, more needs to be done. Nearly 650 000 of the 10.7 million infants born each year in the European Region do not receive the complete three-dose series of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine by age one; and vulnerable populations exist in all countries.
Low immunization coverage compromises gains in all other areas of health for mothers and children. Unvaccinated children are deprived on multiple levels, including access to education, adequate nutrition and other vital health services. Compared with their wealthier peers, children from the poorest households in low- and middle-income countries are twice as likely to die before age five.
In Albania, vaccination coverage of children aged 0-1 years, remains commendably high at 97 per cent; however, there are pockets of lower vaccination coverage among specific sub population groups. Sustained efforts are needed to address disparities in immunization coverage, prioritize the hard-to-reach population groups, including Roma children, and maintain public trust in immunization.
“UNICEF and its partners are working to ensure that the lives of all children are protected. But, if vaccination is not prioritized, some of the most marginalized children will miss out on their right to benefit from immunization, which could mean the difference between life and death” -says Roberto De Bernardi, UNICEF Representative in Albania.
” Every person deserves to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases and plays a vital role in protecting others by choosing to vaccinate. All are encouraged to consult with their doctor and check their family’s immunization records to make sure that they are all fully protected” – says Nazira Artykova, WHO Representative in Albania.
The Ministry of Health in Albania funds 100 per cent of the Expanded Program on Immunization vaccine procurement and expansion of the immunization schedule with new vaccines on a continuous basis. WHO and UNICEF in Albania have been long-standing partners of the
Ministry of Health and Social Protection, supporting the efforts of the Albanian Government in strengthening national immunization services, polio eradication (Albania was declared polio free since 2002), measles elimination activities, communication for immunization, and strengthening of the country’s cold chain system.
In fulfillment of its leadership role in Public Health, WHO will continue to provide technical support, catalyze change, and build sustainable institutional capacity in the control of vaccine-preventable diseases.
UNICEF is the world’s largest buyer of vaccines reaching 40 per cent of the world’s children and will continue to support the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Albania with vaccine procurement services.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.