Statement by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark for European Immunization Week 2015

Akram Isaev

Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark visited the paediatric hospital and training centre in Dushanbe on the first day of her visit to Tajikistan on 23 October 2014.

20 April 2015

As with any jubilee, the 10th anniversary of European Immunization Week (EIW) gives us the opportunity to celebrate the past and plan for the future. What has the European Region achieved in the field of immunization, and where does it want to be when we celebrate the 20th year of EIW? I find it very appropriate that EIW's theme for this year is commitment. And this is exactly what we are celebrating this week, the commitment to reduce the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Over the past decade, countless individuals have dedicated their time and energies to develop, deliver and demand vaccines to protect the Region's children, our children, from unnecessary suffering and death. Success has been achieved, and this includes maintaining the Region's polio-free status despite several importations of the virus, drastically reducing the burden of measles and rubella, and introducing several new vaccines in both high- and lower-income countries.

As we look to the future, it is again commitment that stands out as the key to achieving our goals. Last year, I had the opportunity to join WHO Regional Director Zsuzsanna Jakab on a visit to Tajikistan. Here, we met several young people who are working hard to overcome physical limitations left behind by the 2010 polio outbreak in their country. Their struggle and determination are stark reminders that we cannot afford to be complacent. The diseases our parents feared and that we now seldom see or even hear about are no less severe today. They are still present and only an unvaccinated person away.

Last year in Copenhagen, the endorsement of the European Vaccine Action Plan (2015–2020) at the Regional Committee, signaled our commitment to rid the Region of vaccine-preventable diseases. However, it is the action we take to implement that plan and the degree to which we stand beside our commitment that will define our success and indeed our legacy.

As patron of the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, I applaud the success achieved over the past 10 years in protecting more children from more diseases than ever before. I am grateful to the professionals and parents who have made this possible, and I extend my warmest encouragement to all those across the Region who are committed to making sure the benefits of immunization extend to every person at every life stage. I trust that great things will be achieved in the next 10 years and I look forward to celebrating further milestones in health protection at the next EIW jubilee.