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Mass Immunization Campaign against Measles and Rubella Starts in Azerbaijan

About 3 million people to be immunized as part  of the national campaign to eliminate measles and rubella developed by the Ministry of Health of the Azerbaijan Republic, in close collaboration with the Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation, Center for Disease Control (USA), USAID, United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO)

BAKU, 24 February 2006 - About 3 million children and young people aged 7-23 nationwide and 7-29 in Baku will be immunized against measles and rubella between 27 February and 13 March in Azerbaijan. 

The main goal of mass immunization campaign is to provide vaccination opportunities to all measles and rubella susceptible children, adolescents and young adults, thus interrupting indigenous transmission of the diseases in Azerbaijan.  

The campaign is a key part of Azerbaijan's overall measles elimination and congenital rubella infection prevention strategy and 6614 vaccination centres are being equipped nationwide.

Over 4800 health workers have been mobilized throughout the country to provide vaccinations to eligible population and mobile teams have started to fan out to find those who have never been reached before or difficult to reach.

The Ministry of Health has led the campaign and was responsible for its planning, coordination, implementation and monitoring.

“It is unacceptable for children to suffer from life-long birth defects such as deafness and blindness from congenital rubella syndrome when we have an effective, safe and inexpensive vaccine and each child can receive a combined rubella/measles vaccines, as part of routine immunization,” said Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Representative. "Immunization is the right of every child."

“The needs of children are ignored at a great cost to the well being of society, and the needs of children in Azerbaijan and throughout the world are urgent. Perhaps each of us can do only small part for the health of children, but collectively our efforts are beginning to make a difference. There is so much more to do, and we must do it now!” said Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich.

UNICEF has supported the Government campaign by providing significant financial and technical support in planning, supply procurement, cold chain maintenance and communication for the Mass Measles and Rubella Immunization Campaign (MRC).  Out of USD 1,800,000 of total resources committed for MRC, as much as USD 1,650,000 were allocated to supply/procurement and USD 150,000 devoted for the Social Mobilization activities, including trainings, briefings and workshops for central and district-level partners. 

WHO has provided technical assistance in planning and review of the different aspects of the campaign at national and district levels on safety immunization practices, vaccine coverage, surveillance, training, development of training materials and adverse events following immunization (AEFI) surveillance system.

Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation has also provided technical support in planning, supply procurement, cold chain maintenance, trainings of health personnel and social mobilization efforts, altogether allocating USD 1,100,000.
Measles kills more children throughout the world than any other vaccine-preventable disease. Children who survive measles can still be affected by a range of permanent disabilities. Between 30 and 40 million children catch measles every year.  In 2003, approximately 530,000 died from the disease, often from secondary complications related to pneumonia, diarrhea and malnutrition.

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.


For more information, please, contact:

Ayna Mollazade, Communication Officer, UNICEF
Tel:  99412 492 3013
Fax: 99412 492 2468

Dinara Abbas, Health and Nutrition Officer, UNICEF
Tel:  99412 492 3013
Fax: 99412 492 2468

Soltan Mammadov, Director, Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation
Tel/Fax: 99412 4368277

Sergey Mukomolov, expert on MR Mass Immunization Campaign, WHO/EURO
Tel: 99412 498 9888 (ext 160)
Fax: 99412 498 9888 (ext 160)

Vusala Allahverdiyeva, Vaccine Preventable Diseases and Immunization
Officer, WHO/Azerbaijan
Tel: 99412 498 9888 (ext 160)
Fax: 99412 498 9888 (ext 160)



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