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Azerbaijan immunisation campaign launched by President

© UNICEF Baku 2006 / Mollazade
Left to right: Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Representative, Mr. and Ms. Reno Harnish (US Ambassador and his wife), President Aliyev, Maestro Rostropovich and his daughter Elena, with two children from the orphanage who were immunised today.

BAKU, February 27, 2006 - Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich, the world famous cellist and founder of the Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation (VRF), have kicked off the first round of a mass immunization campaign against measles and rubella.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign at
Baku Orphanage Number One, President Aliyev said: “The massive effort being launched in Azerbaijan today aims 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.”

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 needs of children in Azerbaijan and throughout the world are urgent,” said Rostropovich, who was born in Baku. “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.”

The VRF was founded in 1991 by Maestro Rostropovich, often referred to as the “lord of the cello”, and his wife, the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, to improve children's health care in Russia and other CIS countries.

Yesterday  (26 February) UNICEF Azerbaijan hosted a lunch to honour the Maestro and the contribution of the VRF to the campaign, attended by high-profile government officials and the diplomatic community.

“It does not matter whether one is a guest coming to pay your respects or just a plain awed music lover, Mr. Rostropovich gives everyone the same giant bear hug…" said Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Representative, in her welcoming speech. "After a few precious minutes with him, one always comes away with the feeling of having been touched by greatness. And today, we at UNICEF feel that we too have been touched by this greatness.” 

For further information please contact:

Ayna Mollazade, Communication Officer. Tel: (+99 412) 492 3013. Email:



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