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Measles and rubella elimination campaign kicks off in Armenia

© EF/Armenia 2007/Emil Sahakyan
October 2007. Armenia. No.17 policlinic in Yerevan. Since early morning children and young people have been lining up to be immunized against measles and rubella
YEREVAN, 1 October 2007 – Over one 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 late 1990’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, said Sheldon Yett, the UNICEF Armenia Representative. 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 said.

UNICEF, together with WHO and other partners such as the Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation, Vivacell Telecom and the Millennium Armenian Children’s Vaccination Fund, is actively supporting the campaign through the provision of vaccines and other supplies and through support for social mobilization activities.
 
In particular, UNICEF delivered about 1,500,000 doses of measles and rubella combined vaccine, 1,500,000 auto-disable syringes to ensure safe injections, as well as cold chain supplies, vaccine carriers and other key items for the campaign.
 
Today, Armenia is joining the ranks of many other countries in this region that are implementing measles and rubella campaigns as part of a concentrated effort to reduce  outbreaks of these diseases. 

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.

This campaign is supported by the Measles Initiative, which was launched in 2001 to support government’s efforts to tackle measles deaths. The Measles Initiative is spearheaded by the American Red Cross, Center for Disease Control, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and WHO. To date, the Initiative has mobilized more than US $300 million to provide technical and financial support to national campaigns. Other key players in the fight against measles includes the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Measles claims a staggering 30% 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.

Background:
This campaign was funded by the government with support from the Measles Initiative, which was launched in 2001 to supports government’s efforts to tackle measles deaths. The Measles Initiative is spearheaded by the American Red Cross, CDC, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and WHO. To date, the Initiative has mobilized more than US $300 million to provide technical and financial support to national campaigns. Other key players in the fight against measles includes the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

About UNICEF
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: Tel: (374 1) 523-546, 566497,580-174, E-mail: esahakyan@unicef.org


 

 

 

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