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UNICEF warns about the risk of the outbreak of infection diseases in Ukraine

KYIV, 23 October 2013 - On the eve of the World Polio Day observed worldwide on 24 October, UNICEF reminds that Ukraine is among few countries in the world with a high-risk for poliomyelitis outbreak due to low immunization coverage of children.

Recently, the risk of polio importation became an imminent threat due to the current circulation of the virus in Israel. Suspected cases have been reported in Syria as well. Children in Ukraine are particularly vulnerable because less than 50% of children are vaccinated against polio.

Currently, polio endemic remains in only three countries in the world – Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by the polio virus. It invades the nervous system, and can cause paralysis or even death in a matter of hours. There is no cure for polio. Immunization is the only defense. Safe and effective vaccines exist and it is essential protection for children against polio. Given multiple times, it protects a child for life.

“Vaccines do not kill but diseases do. Polio for unvaccinated child cause devastating death and disability for the lifetime. The vaccination plays a crucial role in keeping kids healthy,” says Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.

Just recently in 2010, the outbreak of polio in Tajikistan killed 21 children, more than 400 were infected with 170 cases of kids paralyzed. The disease spread to Russia with 12 identified cases.

A strong anti-vaccination lobby, skepticism and misinformation in the population towards vaccination in Ukraine are among the causes for a rapid decline in immunization coverage. According to the UNICEF survey, only 46% of population had a positive attitude towards immunization. That has already resulted in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases occurred recently in Ukraine such as measles, rubella, pertussis and mumps.

“Many children in Ukraine are not fully vaccinated. Children in our country are supposed to receive three dozes of vaccine protecting against polio in the first year of life. It is never late to start vaccinating your child,” explains Katerina Bulavinova, UNICEF medical consultant, practicing paediatrician.

For photo and video materials on World Polio Day please visit 

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is the world leader in protection of children’s rights and interests. The Fund works in more than 190 countries for protection and support of children from early childhood through adolescence. Programs of UNICEF are entirely financed by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. Office of the Fund was opened in Ukraine in 1997.

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For more information please contact:

Veronika Vashchenko
Communication Officer
UNICEF Ukraine
Tel: +38 044 245 2450



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