Childhood is precious – let’s protect children from infectious diseases

UNICEF and the Parliamentary Committee for Health, Labour and Social Welfare are working together for the improved health of children

UNICEF Montenegro
Parliament of Montenegro/2022
06 July 2022

PODGORICA, 6 July 2022 – We must come together to protect children from infectious diseases. This is the joint message from yesterday’s session of the Committee for Health, Labour and Social Welfare of the Parliament of Montenegro. The session on “Early child development with a focus on the routine or current immunization of children in Montenegro” was organized in cooperation with the UNICEF office in Montenegro.

In addition to MPs, the following participated in the session in the capacity of the Committee’s guests: Dr. Elvis Omeragić, State Secretary in the Ministry of Health; Radovan Nikolić, Advisor in the Directorate for Normative Affairs in the Ministry of Health; Dr. Igor Galić, Director of the Institute for Public Health of Montenegro; Dr. Adis Martinović, head of the Department for Immunoprophylaxis at the Institute of Public Health of Montenegro; Mina Brajović, Head of the Country Office in the World Health Organization; Dr. Lidija Poček, a paediatrics specialist, subspecialist in allergology and clinical immunology at the Institute for Children’s Diseases in the Clinical Centre of Montenegro; Dr. Rajka Pajović, a paediatrician from the Podgorica Primary Healthcare Centre; as well as UNICEF Montenegro’s Nela Krnić, Child Rights Monitoring Programme Coordinator, and Dr. Senad Begić, senior health consultant.

The Chairperson of the Committee, Dr. Srđan Pavićević, pointed out that high immunization rates should be an indicator that will move us away from the past.

“If this society is not able to devote attention to this problem and track the growth and development of children very rigorously and in a high-quality manner, then we are dealing with a civilizational problem,” Dr. Pavićević said.

He said that UNICEF’s report on the current vaccination status of children in Montenegro and their recommendations in this regard should be part of the conclusions of the session, together with the proposal to form a heterogeneous multidisciplinary working group to develop a national strategy for improving the health conditions of children and young people as they grow up, with particular emphasis on immunization.

Parliament of Montenegro/2022

UNICEF’s Child Rights Monitoring Programme Coordinator, Nela Krnić, and UNICEF’s senior health consultant, Dr. Senad Begić, highlighted the importance of immunization for health and quality of life, as well as the low rates of routine immunization of children. They said that childhood is never repeated and that activities aimed at encouraging the highest standard of healthcare and prerequisites for a healthy childhood for every child in Montenegro must be undertaken immediately.

“Almost 90 percent of children in Montenegro were vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella in 2010. This figure currently stands at 23 percent,” Krnić pointed out.

She pointed out that the municipalities of Mojkovac and Plav are champions of immunization in Montenegro and called on other municipalities to follow their examples.

Krnić added that UNICEF Montenegro, in cooperation with the European Union, stands ready to support national efforts in the fight for the health and adequate protection of children and that, within the programme to strengthen the resilience and response of the health system to the COVID-19 pandemic and other epidemiological risks, more than 1.3 million euros has been secured, of which one half is intended for supporting routine immunization of children.

Dr. Begić pointed out that vaccines remain the fastest, most effective and cheapest way we can control, eliminate and ultimately eradicate diseases. UNICEF and the World Health Organization estimate that vaccines save four million children’s lives annually.

He invited the members of the Parliamentary Committee to support national efforts to raise the level of protection of children from infectious diseases.

“In addition to monitoring the progress in the immunization of children, we also expect your public support for the immunization of children, by continuously calling on parents to protect children from infectious and dangerous diseases and by encouraging parents to use official information about vaccines, such as the Bebbo app,” Dr. Begić said.