Real lives

Real lives


Catch –up immunization of Roma children – Reducing the number of risks by one

© unicef BiH
Amira, young Roma mother, holding her baby son

“Ali is my sixth child. They are all immunized now. We live very hard, but at least I am sure my children will not get one of these diseases”, said 26-years old Amira, beautiful Roma mother, who brought her baby and two older daughters to the Primary School in Modricki Lug, to get the vaccines they have missed.

Modricki Lug is a small settlement in Republika Srpska, with large number of Roma inhabitants. On April 15th, the Immunisation Day has been organized in the local primary school. Thirty Roma children were immunized with vaccines they did not received before,  in accordance with their age and the immunization calendar.
“For the third time, we are organizing the field immunization for these children, as most of them don’t have the medical record, and have never been covered by regular immunization programmes. Sometimes we even have to guess their real age, as they were never registered at birth”, said Dr. Slobodanka Simic, Pediatrician from Modrica. Amira’s son Ali was born in Banja Luka. Amira cannot afford to pay the travel costs to Banja Luka to obtain the Birth registration documents.

Catch-up immunization became an integral part of the European Immunisation Week in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is the fifth year in which, the Ministries of Health and Institutes of Public Health, supported by UNICEF and WHO, mark the week with events aimed to promote universal immunization. European Immunisation Week will be officially marked in BiH, from April 24 to April 30.

However, the catch-up immunization started earlier. “We have initiated the catch-up immunization with Roma population now, knowing they might migrate soon, because of the spring and summer time.” said Dr. Mitar Tesanovic, Chief Epidemiologist in the Republika Srpska. Another population to focus on through the immunization activities this year are teenagers. They will graduate in May, and would be difficult to reach after they leave the school. “We are about to start with the catch-up immunization through schools, to decrease the risks of rubella that recently outbreak among young population in BiH.” Dr. Tesanovic added.

Roma children in BiH are especially vulnerable population, facing the risks of poverty, malnutrition, health risks and limited enrollment in schools.
The continued efforts of the Public Health Institutes to locate and immunize Roma children, resulted in reducing the number of risks by one, at least for the Roma children from Modricki Lug.

Nineta Popovic



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