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International Child Neurology Congress affirms vaccination safety in Ukraine

© UNICEF Ukraine/2009/Sweeting
Prof. Robert Ouvrier, President of the International Child Neurology Association, addresses the group’s congress in Kiev, Ukraine.

By Roshan Khadivi

KIEV, Ukraine, 16 September 2009 – UNICEF was among this year’s sponsors of the International Child Neurology Congress, held in Ukraine for the first time last week.

Every year, this prestigious gathering brings together medical experts from around the world to share and exchange the latest information on medical treatment for children with neurological disabilities.

The 2009 congress, which took place in Kiev from 9 to 12 September, was supported by Ukraine 3000, a charitable foundation, along with other private sponsors and UNICEF. Ukrainian First Lady Kateryna Yushchenko presided at the congress.

Restoring trust
UNICEF made its contribution to the event through the Restoring Trust in Immunization project. Its sponsorship brought two national medical experts to the congress to address the issue of vaccine safety.

This was significant for Ukraine, in that child neurology professionals play a critical role in parents’ decisions regarding their children’s immunization.

The safety of immunization was not a major concern among Ukrainians prior to 2008, and many parents regularly had their children vaccinated in public or private clinics. But concerns were raised following the 2008 death of an adolescent boy, which some groups associated with the measles and rubella (MR) vaccine.

Since then, the Ministry of Health, the United Nations, and international and Ukrainian medical experts have all concluded that the boy’s tragic death was not caused by the vaccination.

‘To defend and protect’

UNICEF and its partners are working to rebuild public confidence in immunization by making sure that parents are provided with correct and factual information about vaccination safety. UNICEF is also organizing an awareness-raising campaign through which the medical community, media outlets, teachers and community leaders will be able to highlight the issue.

© UNICEF Ukraine/2009/Sweeting
Ukrainian First Lady Kateryna Yushchenko meets Prof. Hubertus Von Voss, one of the international visitors at the neurology congress in Kiev.

Meanwhile, the members of International Child Neurology Association adopted a resolution in support of immunization in Ukraine during their recent congress.

“A parent’s role is to defend and protect their children,” said association President Robert Ouvrier. “Immunization is one example where this happens.”



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