European Immunization Week in Tajikistan

Ibod Sharifi

Parents throughout the country received information about the importance of vaccinating their children

As part of the seventh European Immunization Week, celebrated from 21 to 27 April 2012 in all 53 countries of the WHO European Region, several activities were organized throughout Tajikistan.

The primary objective of European Immunization Week (EIW) is to increase vaccination coverage by raising awareness of the importance of immunization, in particular by promoting the core message that immunization of every child is vital to prevent diseases and protect life.

Press conference

For this purpose, the WHO Country Office in Tajikistan, in collaboration with the Republican Center for Immunoprophylaxis and UNICEF, conducted a joint press conference on 19 April 2012 in Dushanbe. The press conference was attended by representatives from the mass media, including several newspapers, television and radio agencies.

The Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Mirzoev, opened the conference, noting that "Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective health interventions available, saving millions of people from illness, disability and death each year". He also mentioned that EIW is a great opportunity to stress the importance of immunization in saving lives and to encourage families to vaccinate their children against serious diseases. In his speech, he announced that Tajikistan would conduct phase 1 of a diphtheria campaign, targeting children aged 3 to 6, on 23–28 April 2012.

Dr Pavel Ursu, WHO Representative, added that vaccination prevents 2–3 million deaths around the world every year. He also highlighted the serosurvey conducted in Tajikistan, and the need to step up efforts to control diphtheria in the country. He commended the Ministry of Health's plans to conduct a diphtheria immunization campaign.

Information materials

In addition to the press conference conducted in Dushanbe, several education and communication materials containing key information on the importance of immunization were developed by the Republican Center for Immunoprophylaxis jointly with the WHO Country Office. These materials were distributed at district level to parents, health care professionals, youth and volunteers, in particular among the hard-to-reach and marginalized populations of the country.

Multistakeholder action

At the regional and oblast levels, ceremonies and other activities to open European Immunization Week were organized together with health care professionals, including a series of radio programmes on the importance of immunization.

Special mobile teams of health care professionals, volunteers and representatives from international organizations also participated in various social mobilization activities across the country.

Within its "Health of Mother and Child" project, and with support from USAID and WHO, the Mercy Corps organization in Tajikistan organized three events in Hissar District dedicated to EIW under the slogan "Prevent. Protect. Immunize".