Number of reported suspected polio cases on the decrease in Tajikistan

Press release, Dushanbe

The polio immunization campaign is having a substantial impact on the number of reported suspected cases in Tajikistan, with more than 85% total decrease from the peak period. The biggest reduction is in children under six (95% decrease). This positive trend is expected to be further accelerated as the effect of the third polio vaccination round is starting to be observed. Results from the third round report that more than 2.9 million children, or 99.5% of children under 15, have been immunized.

A new round of the polio immunization drive is starting today in Tajikistan until 19 June 2010. During this round, all children under 15 years of age will receive life-saving polio vaccine. Progressive monitoring and investigation of the polio outbreak size have indicated a need to further vaccinate children under six to strengthen their immunity, as this is the group most at risk and primarily transmitting the virus. This round is the fourth of a series of supplementary immunization days organized by the Ministry of Health with the support of WHO, UNICEF and international partners to stop a polio outbreak hitting the country.

“It should be reemphasized that polio can only be prevented through immunization,” says Dr Nusratullo Salimov, Minister of Health of the Republic of Tajikistan. “The fourth immunization round aims at further raising children’s immunity against polio. Children aged 0-15 will be targeted during this round. I hope that parents will continue to actively participate in the immunization campaign.”

“We expect that the number of polio confirmed cases will increase as specimens already collected from suspected patients are laboratory tested”, adds Dr Santino Severoni, WHO Head of WHO Country office in Tajikistan. “However, what is important to establish is the report of cases of acute flaccid paralysis, and that is significantly in decline in the country”.

The positive change in the trend reflects the strong response of parents to have their children immunized during the previous rounds. During the fourth immunization round, children under 15 years of age can be vaccinated free of charge at immunization points located in hospitals, local health centres and ad hoc dedicated areas.

“I would like to call on all parents and caregivers in the country to vaccinate their children against polio during this fourth round,” adds Hongwei Gao, UNICEF Country Representative in Tajikistan. “There has been a tremendous effort to immunise all children throughout the country with the life-saving polio vaccine. Together we need to make sure that this fourth round is even more far-reaching”.

WHO, UNICEF and key partners including United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Rotary International, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (IFRC) are actively conducting resource mobilization to support the cost of preparedness and response activities in Tajikistan and the subregion.


For more information, please contact:

Ministry of Health of the Republic of Tajikistan:
Ms. Fatima Goibova, Press Officer
Tel.: +992 (44) 600 60 02 (office), +992 (918) 21 46 46 (mob.)
E-mail: presscenter_mz@mail.ru

World Health Organization in Tajikistan:
Ms. Cristiana Salvi, Communication Officer
Tel.: +992 (90) 500 02 33 or + 992 (907) 78 01 19
E-mail: csa@ecr.euro.who.int or tahmina.who@tajnet.com

UNICEF in Tajikistan:
Mr Alexander Sodiqov, Communication Officer
Tel.: +992 (918) 31 00 57
E-mail: asodiqov@unicef.org