Measles and Rubella elimination campaign kicks off in Armenia
YEREVAN, 1 October 2007 – Over 1 million people aged 6 - 27 will be immunized against measles and rubella between 1-13 October in Armenia during the mass immunization campaign that has been officially kicked off today in Yerevan by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation and other partners.
Approximately 3,000 vaccination centres equipped for the campaign have opened at policlinics, rural primary health facilities, schools and universities across the country with about 3,500 health workers mobilized to ensure each eligible person gets the vaccine.
The measles and rubella vaccine is provided to children at twelve months as part of the standard immunization schedule. However, this campaign targets those who may not have received the vaccination in the mid and late1990’s when the basic immunization programme in Armenia was not as strong as it is now.
“Having a strong basic immunization programme in place is one of the most cost effective and powerful tools to guarantee a child’s future health” – UNICEF Armenia Representative, Sheldon Yett.
“Having a strong basic immunization programme in place is one of the most cost effective and powerful tools to guarantee a child’s future health,” said the UNICEF Armenia Representative, Sheldon Yett. “Campaigns such as this, can never replace the importance of a strong, well financed and effective basic immunization programme. However, this campaign will help ensure that no one falls through the immunization net,” Yett continued.
UNICEF together with WHO, and other partners such as the Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation, Vivacell Telecom, the Millennium, Armenian Children’s Vaccination Fund and other partners has been actively supporting Armenia’s, measles and rubella campaign through the provision of vaccines and other supplies and through support for social mobilization activities.
In particular, UNICEF delivered about 1.5 million doses of measles and rubella combined vaccine, 1.5 million auto-disable syringes to ensure safe injections, cold chain supplies, vaccine carriers and other key items for the campaign.
UNICEF also provided technical assistance in the development and implementation of social mobilization and awareness raising activities, helping to shape key messages for target groups, design posters and flyers, including those featuring UNICEF Armenia Goodwill Ambassador, singer Alla Levonyan..
In Armenia elimination of measles and rubella remains a public health priority and is part of the national public health strategy. The last measles outbreak was reported in the country in 2004-2005, when over 4 000 people were infected with this disease.
”Thankfully, and due to the concerted efforts of the Ministry of Health, Armenia has been relatively successful in ensuring children receive full and timely vaccinations. However, the evidence from other countries in the world is clear. Without substantial and sustained national budgetary commitments to public health, this high rate of coverage may not be maintained and outbreaks in disease that otherwise would have been prevented, may not be,” Yett stressed.
Measles claims a staggering 30 per cent of all vaccine-preventable deaths world-wide, and globally kills more children than any other vaccine-preventable disease.
Rubella is a major cause of birth defects in children and if contracted during pregnancy, the disease can cause miscarriage or the birth of an infant with severe birth defects, including deafness, blindness, mental retardation or heart disease
UNICEF established its presence in Armenia in 1994. UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For further information, please contact:
UNICEF Armenia Office