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President Aliyev and Maestro Rostropovich kick off National Measles Rubella Immunization Campaign

© UNICEF Azerbaijan/Mollazade/2006
The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev and Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich at the launch of the campaign

BAKU, February 27, 2006 - Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich, theworld famous cellist and founder of the Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation (VRF) today kicked off the first round of national immunization campaign against measles and rubella in the Baku’s orphanage #1.

“The massive effort being launched in Azerbaijan today to cover all children and young people throughout the country and to protect them from measles and rubella – we’ll be able to reach several million people with this vaccine,” said the president Aliyev.

Around three million children and young people aged 7-23 nationwide and 7-29 in Baku will be immunized as part of this two-week campaign developed by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation, Center for Disease Control (USA), USAID, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF).

UNICEF, with the support of the Center for Disease Control, has provided $1.8 million for the Government campaign -- $1.65 million for supplies and $150,000 for social mobilization, including training, briefings and workshops for national and local partners. UNICEF has also provided technical support in planning, supply procurement, cold chain maintenance and communication.

The campaign is a key part of Azerbaijan's measles elimination and congenital rubella infection prevention strategy. The Ministry of Health is leading the campaign and is responsible for its planning, coordination, implementation and monitoring.

“The needs of children in Azerbaijan and throughout the world are urgent,” said Rostropovich, who was born in Baku, Azerbaijan (then part of the Soviet Union). “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,” he said.

The VRF was founded in 1991 by maestro often referred to as a “living icon of music” and a “lord of cello” and his wife, the acclaimed soprano Galina Vishnevskaya to improve the state of children's health care in Russia and other CIS countries.

On February, 26, 2006, the day before the launch of the campaign, UNICEF Azerbaijan country office has hosted a lunch honoring Maestro and the contribution of the VRF into the campaign. The event was attended by high-profile government officials and all the diplomatic community.

“It does not matter that one is a fellow VIP seeking to pay his respects or just a plain awed music lover, Mr. Rostropovich gives each one the same giant bear hug…One always comes away after a few precious minutes with him feeling he or she has been touched by greatness, and today UNICEF feels it has been touched by this greatness,” said UNICEF Azerbaijan Representative Hanaa Singer in her welcoming speech.

For further information please contact:

Ayna Mollazade, Communication Officer

Tel:  99412 492 3013

Fax: 99412 492 2468




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