UNICEF Stands Ready To Support the Ministry of Health to Meet its Strategic Health Priorities
Development of the health care system, rolling out vaccination, and assisting with the establishment of medicine procurement processes: the Ministry of Health is cooperating fruitfully with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in these and other are critical areas. This was discussed during a meeting of the Minister of Health of Ukraine Maksym Stepanov and the UNICEF Ukraine Representative Lotta Sylwander.
Maksym Stepanov thanked the partners for their expert support in the implementation of important areas of health care system development and noted that the key task is to obtain for Ukraine the necessary number of vaccines against COVID-19 as soon as possible.
“Communication on the need for vaccination is also important. Unfortunately, we can see that Ukraine is waging an information war against vaccination, which, without exaggeration, threatens the lives of Ukrainians and national security. But by working together we will be able to convince citizens how important it is not to believe fake news and to be vaccinated to save their lives and the lives of their loved ones,” the Minister said.
However, as noted by the Minister, there have been positive changes in routine immunization. For the first time in many years, polio vaccination rates have increased: they now stand at 83 per cent, compared to only 78.4 per cent in 2019. The proportion vaccinated against hepatitis B and haemophilic infection increased by 10 percentage points. The percentage of children in the first year of life vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus has remained at the same level.
UNICEF Ukraine Representative Lotta Sylwander stressed that vaccines against COVID-19 are crucial for overcoming the pandemic and returning to normal life, and UNICEF is supporting the Government to run its vaccination campaign in Ukraine. This includes building the capacity of health workers to vaccinate and communicate, procuring vaccines through the COVAX Facility, and working with communities to build trust in vaccines and the health care system.
“As we work to successfully vaccinate against COVID-19, it is critical that children continue to receive routine immunization to prevent outbreaks of other infectious diseases. It is very important to ensure effective, long-term planning of vaccine needs so that children and adults in Ukraine have uninterrupted access to vaccines,” said Lotta Sylwander.
UNICEF and its partners will also supply COVID-19 vaccines to Ukraine as part of the global COVAX Facility; and this will include assistance in maintaining a cold vaccine storage chain.
To note: on 9 March, at the request of the Ministry of Health, UNICEF delivered BCG vaccines to Ukraine to protect children from tuberculosis. These were procured at the expense of the state budget.
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