Second phase of Tajikistan’s diphtheria campaign underway

WHO/Tahmina Alimamedova

Older children being vaccinated against diphtheria in Tajikistan

2.5 million young people in Tajikistan are to be vaccinated against diphtheria in the second phase of a national campaign started earlier this year. The Government, with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO, began the first round of the second phase on 24–29 September 2012, focusing on those aged 7–21 years. The second round, from 29 October to 3 November, will target those aged 13–21.

The country conducted the first phase of the campaign, for children aged 3–6, in April of this year.

The Government of the Russian Federation provided the campaign with a grant of US$ 1 million through UNICEF, matching the Government of Tajikistan’s allocation. This grant is being used to procure auto-disable syringes and safety boxes, to ensure safe, one-time use of syringes or needles, as well as additional cold-chain equipment for the safe storage and transportation of vaccines.

“Vaccination is essential in protecting the health of children and young people. It is one of the most cost-effective health interventions available, saving many people from illness, disability and death each year,” said Dr Pavel Ursu, WHO Representative in Tajikistan.

UNICEF and WHO have worked closely with the Tajik Government to raise public awareness of the vaccination campaign through various activities, including broadcasting public service announcements on television and radio, to ensure that every child in the country is reached.