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Vaccine safety in Bosnia and Herzegovina

SARAJEVO, 18 July 2009

The Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Republika Srpska, the Federal Ministry of Health, the Public Health Institute of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Public Health Institute of Republika Srpska, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are deeply concerned by the continued attempts to discredit immunisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this time through an ill-informed group who repeat allegations about the safety of UNICEF-supplied vaccines that have no basis in fact and are not substantiated.

The Ministries, Public Health Institutes, UNICEF and WHO are jointly concerned about the credibility of information made available to the ‘Association of Parents of Sick Children’.

Such incorrect information can undermine public trust in immunisation of children by wrongfully drawing the attention of parents and the public to the possibility that certain children have been handicapped as a result of vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

The Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS), an expert clinical and scientific advisory body, established by the World Health Organisation regularly checks all newly arrived evidence and has a firm position that there is no evidence of toxicity in infants, children or adults exposed to mercury from thiomersal (containing ethyl mercury) in vaccines.

These investigations should put this issue at rest in all countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina. Continued allegations will only do harm by making parents hesitant to use safe vaccines that should protect their child.

Immunisation is one of the most effective and successful public health interventions. It is believed that vaccines have saved as many as 20 million lives across the world in the last couple of decades.

The Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Republika Srpska, Federal Ministry of Health, Public Health Institute of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Public Health Institute of Republika Srpska, UNICEF and WHO once again highlight that children in Bosnia and Herzegovina have not been poisoned by mercury as a result of receiving vaccines supplied by UNICEF.

All vaccines donated by UNICEF and used in Bosnia and Herzegovina have undergone an independent and thorough review by the WHO to ensure their safety and effectiveness and were produced in accordance with the highest international standards.

Parents are urged to discuss issues related to their children’s health with their family doctors, paediatricians, and properly-qualified medical experts.

This is also an opportunity to appeal to all media professionals to report responsibly on the issue of vaccination by checking thoroughly all sides of the story before publication. Vaccine-preventable diseases can lead to very serious consequences and are still circulating globally. It is therefore extremely important for all children to be immunised.

For further information, please contact:

Nela Kacmarcik
UNICEF BiH, Sarajevo, Kolodvorska 6
Phone: +387 33 723 300
Mob: +387 61 192 084





Press release in Bosnian

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