10 Years On: A Lasting Donation

Many big epidemics, which claimed millions of lives in the past, no longer exist thanks to vaccination.

Vladimir Banic
Five-month-old Natalija receiving her vaccine.
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Banic

04 July 2017

Five-month-old Natalija, wearing a pink shirt, is resting peacefully in her mother's arms.

Natalija’s joyful eyes, full of confidence, are watching her mom Jelena, who brought her for her regular vaccination.

Previously, Natalija was at the doctor's office for a medical check-up. She was lying on her stomach with her head held up high, and then she was opening her mouth so that the doctor can check her throat.

The doctor said that Natalija is healthy and gave the green light for her fifth vaccine.

The nurse carefully takes the vaccine from the refrigerator, checks the expiration date and the storage temperature. Natalija is not interested in those activities. She is still peacefully looking at her mom and smiling at her.

I make sure to vaccinate my children because I believe I'm protecting their health this way.

Jelena (mother)

"Natalija's three-year-old brother used to wait for his vaccine as quietly as she does," Jelena explains.

"I make sure to vaccinate my children because I believe I'm protecting their health this way."

Natalija's smile is briefly interrupted by a frown because she feels a tingling sensation in her thigh, but this was so brief she didn't even have the chance to start crying.

She keeps looking at her mom and continues smiling, while the mom soothingly and triumphantly says: "It's oveeeer."

Five-month-old Natalija is having a medical check-up before receiving her vaccine.
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Banic
Five-month-old Natalija is having a medical check-up before receiving her vaccine.

More than 30,000 vaccines are administered annually at the Paediatrics Department of the Vozdovac Primary Health Centre.

"Many big epidemics, which claimed millions of lives in the past, no longer exist thanks to vaccination. Children are the most vulnerable, and thanks to vaccines, many children who 50 years ago would not have survived diseases like smallpox, typhus, diphtheria, or would have been crippled by polio, are protected. Thanks to vaccines, these diseases are no longer prevalent, and in the case of smallpox eradicated," comments Dr Milena Janicijevic, Head of the Department.

In order for vaccines to be safe and effective for the patient it is very important to keep them in proper conditions – at temperatures ranging from +2 to +8 degrees Celsius.

Many primary health centres in Serbia do not have air conditioning, so the temperature in the buildings in the summer can be over 30 degrees Celsius.

That’s why it’s very important that they have quality refrigerators that preserve the quality of vaccines.

The new fridge for vaccines.
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Banic
Vaccines are kept safe and effective by being stored in proper conditions – at temperatures ranging from +2 to +8 degrees Celsius.

Many big epidemics, which claimed millions of lives in the past, no longer exist thanks to vaccination.

The Vozdovac Primary Health Centre has as many as 13 vaccination stations, including the smaller infirmaries in villages.

The so-called "Vaccine transport and storage cold chain", which ensures the adequate temperature of vaccines from when they leave production to when they reach the final user, in this case – a child, is a great challenge.

Natasa Kojicin, a nurse, is in charge of monitoring the quality and quantity of the vaccines stored in this Primary Health Centre.

In the controls she regularly carries out several times a day, she makes sure that each vaccination station has a sufficient number of vaccines. She claims the biggest overload happens during the winter, when a large number of influenza vaccines are stored.

Two of the six refrigerators donated to the Vozdovac Primary Health Centre.
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Banic
Two of the six refrigerators donated to the Vozdovac Primary Health Centre .
Natasa Kojicin, a nurse in the Vozdovac Primary Health Centre, is checking the quality of vaccines.
UNICEF Serbia/2017/Banic
Natasa Kojicin, a nurse in the Vozdovac Primary Health Centre, is checking the quality of vaccines.

Natasa says they had big problems before they received the six big new refrigerators as a donation from the Government of Japan and UNICEF, ten years ago.

This donation still serves an important purpose.

"In ten years, thanks to these refrigerators, we have vaccinated more than 300,000 children! That's one bigger city," Natasa says.

"We used to travel every day to a big storage facility and take a smaller number of vaccines. We would spend two hours a day travelling. Now, instead of that we spend more time at the Primary Health Centre treating children. There are multiple benefits of this donation," says Natasa, explaining how the strengthened vaccine transport and storage cold chain has increased the quality of their work and the quality of services provided to the youngest patients.

Thanks to the generous donation from the Government of Japan in the amount of US$ 351,000 dollars in 2007, UNICEF, through the Institute Public of Health, equipped 21 health centres in Serbia with 300 large capacity refrigerators and 700 small portable units.

This donation has ensured the quality and safety of millions of vaccines given to children in Serbia.

After ten years, a large number of these refrigerators are still in use, continuing to ensure that children in Serbia have access to safe and quality vaccines.

Locations of Primary Health Centers that benefitted from the donation

Belgrade

Sabac

Bor

Kraljevo

Zajecar

Leskovac

Kragujevac

Pozarevac

Cuprija

Pirot

Niš

Vranje

Cacak

Uzice

Kosovska Mitrovica

Novi Sad

Pancevo

Sombor

Kikinda

Sremska Mitrovica

Subotica