European Immunization Week: a major health priority for each child’s life in Tajikistan

WHO/Nukra Sinavbarova

Immunization is one of the most successful and effective health interventions, reducing morbidity and mortality across the world in a safe and cost-effective manner. It is an important investment for all countries. From infants to senior citizens, immunization prevents debilitating illness, disability and death from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Under the framework of European Immunization Week 2011, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health held National Immunization Days (NIDs) against polio on 18-22 April 2011 across Tajikistan. WHO/Europe provided support in developing training materials for health care workers, including microplanning workshops for better management and planning on polio rounds as well as assisting health authorities to effectively prepare and implement relevant health promotion activities during the polio rounds. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative supported implementation of the activities.

A special public service announcement was developed by the WHO Country Office in Tajikistan, the Ministry of Health and UNICEF, which was broadcast on national television and radio. Public awareness is critical, and is an effective way of reaching the community to make sure that they are fully immunized against polio. The only way to protect against this disease is by vaccination.

The aims of the polio vaccination campaigns were to:
  • ensure that all vulnerable populations are fully immunized;
  • raise awareness on the importance of immunization in protecting children against polio;
  • expand the culture of disease prevention and control though vaccination; and
  • ensure continuing political commitment for immunization.
From 18-22 April 2011 outreach teams consisting of representatives from WHO/Europe, the Ministry of Health and UNICEF visited communities with limited access to regular health services, such as those living in remote areas, urban fringes and internally displaced people to administer vaccines. Teams carried out large-scale vaccination campaigns against polio and monitored the situation across the country. The teams visited the Soghd and Khatlon oblasts and the Districts of Republican Subordination.

The Tajik people came eagerly to vaccination points with their children to be immunized and protected from polio.

The joint effort and coordinated work of all sectors of society is a key element in increasing the effectiveness of achieving results, improving disease prevention and reducing polio. Polio can only be prevented by immunization!