Kyrgyzstan raising awareness of the importance of immunization

WHO/Almaz Zhumaliev

A European Immunization Week billboard was placed in front of UN House in Kyrgyzstan to raise awareness about the importance of immunization

On 23–29 April 2018, Kyrgyzstan joined in the celebration of European Immunization Week that took place across the WHO European Region, raising awareness of the critical role of vaccines in protecting public health.

Kyrgyzstan’s 2018 campaign focused on immunization as an individual right and shared responsibility of parents and caregivers, health-care professionals, policy- and decision-makers, and the media.

The WHO Country Office in Kyrgyzstan, together with local health authorities, conducted a number of public awareness-raising activities to promote the campaign slogan “Prevent. Protect. Immunize.” Activities emphasized that vaccines protect people of all ages from potentially serious diseases.

Spreading key messages about immunization

The Country Office, together with the Ministry of Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund in Kyrgyzstan, organized a joint press conference at the start of European Immunization Week. The event presented the current immunization situation at regional and country levels, and stressed the importance of immunization for both individual protection and herd immunity from dangerous diseases.

In addition, the Country Office organized a policy roundtable on vaccination-related topics that involved representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Republican Centre for Immunoprophylaxis, the Republican Centre for Health Promotion, the Council of Muslims of Kyrgyzstan and primary care facilities in Bishkek. The roundtable created a good forum for discussion among health-care professionals, immunologists and religious representatives about the role of vaccination in Kyrgyz society.

Participants discussed the fact that vaccines are one of the best and most cost-effective measures to protect individuals from vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines offer a health-related return on investment by savings in health-care costs, preventing lost wages and low productivity that would otherwise be caused by preventable illness.

More public awareness-raising activities planned

Over the coming month, the Republican Centre for Immunoprophylaxis and the Republican Centre for Health Promotion will continue to run awareness-raising activities across the country, advocating that the population “Prevent. Protect. Immunize.”

Activities will include the social mobilization of a local community group of mothers with the involvement of local administration; monitoring visits to all regions by staff of the Republican Centre for Immunoprophylaxis; sporting events to popularize vaccination; and the dissemination of European Immunization Week printed materials such as posters and graphs. Organizers have 2 goals: to increase knowledge among the population about the benefits of vaccines, and to eliminate widespread myths about vaccines in Kyrgyz society.

2018 is an important year for immunization in Kyrgyzstan: both the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and rotavirus vaccines have been introduced into the routine immunization schedule. European Immunization Week 2018 served as a good opportunity for health workers to explain the importance of vaccination for individuals and their communities, and to support the introduction of the new vaccines.