Update on polio supplementary immunization activities in Tajikistan

The elimination of polio in the Republic of Tajikistan is in focus: Immunization campaigns are on the way!

An outbreak of poliomyelitis (polio) due to wild poliovirus type 1 started in Tajikistan early in 2010, eight years after the WHO European Region was certified as polio free. As a part of the joint effort between the Ministry of Health, WHO, UNICEF and with the support of partners from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a successful series of immunization rounds are being carried out.

The major purpose of two rounds of polio immunization in 2011 is to maximize childrens' protection against the disease and ensure that the transmission of wild polio virus in Tajikistan has ended. Immunization campaigns in Dushanbe and surrounding districts took place 18-22 April and a second round is planned for 23-27 May. Previous rounds showed that the targeted children were covered and proved once again the effectiveness of collaborative work between the Ministry of Health of Tajikistan, the WHO Country Office in Tajikistan, UNICEF and all other health sectors involved in the process.

Additionally, on 14 April the Ministry of Health organized a special annual press conference on matters related to the health sector in the Republic of Tajikistan, which included the participation of all heads of health care facilities and medical institutions. The press conference was chaired by the Minister of Health Dr Salimov N.F, and First Deputy Minister of Health Dr Jobirova S.B, as well as Deputy Ministers of Health. The matters discussed during the press conference included the situation of the health sector in Tajikistan and the importance of the upcoming immunization rounds. The mass media had an opportunity to have the latest information from the Minister of Health and ask questions.
Similar polio immunization campaigns are being carried out at the same time in all other Central Asian countries, as well as in Azerbaijan and southern regions of the Russian Federation. These campaigns coincide with European Immunization Week 2011, offering an excellent chance to reinforce the message of protecting children through immunization. The experience from the previous rounds shows that joint efforts and effective cooperation by means of mobilizing all sectors of society can yield successful results and impressive achievements. Healthy children mean a healthy future for the country.