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Mumps epidemic sweeps Moldova

UNICEF and WHO support Moldovan government’s appeal for 600,000 doses of vaccines for young people in the country

Chisinau, February 5, 2008 – UNICEF and the World Health Organisation(WHO) have jointly launched a $1.9 million appeal to buy mumps vaccines for hundreds of thousands of young people in Moldova.

All of the 400,000 children who were born between 1989 and 1994 are at risk, particularly college and university students. Already, 4,500 children and young people in the country are infected. “We must take action now when the epidemic can still be contained. Each week, the number of infections almost doubles”, said UNICEF Moldova’s Chief of the Equitable Access to Quality Services Programme, Svetlana Stefanet.

“This is a huge amount of money”, says Ion Ababii, the Minister of Health. “Especially, if we take into account that only 7.5 million lei (682,000 USD) have been allocated for this year’s immunisation programme. Furthermore, it is extremely hard to find this vaccine. We have struggled to look for it abroad and managed to find only 150,000 vaccines.” The capital city, Chisinau, has been worst affected, and the epidemic is rapidly spreading to other districts.  

Eighty percent of new cases (80%) are among young people, aged 15-24. The most vulnerable are predicted to be those who did not complete their full course of mumps vaccines. The infection is notorious for its complications, of which the most severe is male sterility. The proportion of males who have so far contracted mumps is 65%.

Half of those infected are in hospital in an attempt to contain the infection and extra beds have been provided in hospitals, but the demand is said to be exceeding the bed supply.  

According to the WHO and national experts, the only means of stopping the mumps epidemic is to re-vaccinate the population at risk, mostly children. To carry out the campaign, the Moldovan Ministry of Health needs 600,000 doses of vaccine, syringes and safety boxes. UNICEF has appealed for $1.9 million for additional resources to fund the procurement of 600,000 doses of vaccines and related devices. 



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