Russian Federation supports Tajik campaign against diphtheria

Nukra Sinavbarova

Tajik child vaccinated against diphtheria

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Tajikistan received a grant of US$ 1 million from the Russian Federation on 6 June, to support the second phase of a national campaign for diphtheria immunization targeting 2.5 million children and young people.

“Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective health interventions available, saving many people from illness, disability and death each year. The grant provided by the Government of the Russian Federation enhances our ability to get Tajik people vaccinated against diphtheria,” said Mr Pavel Ursu, WHO Representative in Tajikistan.

Background

A 2010 survey of immunity levels against major vaccine-preventable diseases revealed that more than half of the population in Tajikistan had no protection against diphtheria. This highlighted the need to improve routine immunization delivery, and to conduct a supplementary national immunization campaign against diphtheria and tetanus, to rapidly close immunity gaps and prevent outbreaks.

The first phase of the campaign, in April 2012, targeted children aged 3–6 years and covered almost 700 000 (98% of the target group). The second round, scheduled for September 2012, will target all children and young people aged 7–21.

Funding

The Government of Tajikistan has secured US$ 1 million from the state budget to buy the vaccines. UNICEF has already procured them through a WHO/United Nations pre-qualified manufacturer and delivered them to the country. The matching contribution from the Russian Federation will be used to buy auto-disable syringes and safety boxes, which will ensure that each syringe is used only once.

“This donation from the Russian Federation will contribute immensely to the prevention of a diphtheria outbreak and improvement of routine immunization services,” said Ms Laylee Moshiri, UNICEF Representative in Tajikistan.

The aid will also help the second phase of the campaign by facilitating the training of health workers, independent monitoring and the procurement of additional cold-chain equipment to ensure the safe storage and transportation of vaccines.