Crown Princess Mary of Denmark underlines importance of universal vaccination in address to Tajik medical students

Akram Isaev

Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark met children and parents during her visit to the Child Rehabilitation Centre in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on 23 October 2014.

Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, visited Tajikistan on 23–25 October 2014. As Patron of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, the Crown Princess advocates increased regional and national investment in maternal and child health and stronger immunization efforts. The programme included visits to several health care facilities, including a paediatric hospital in the capital city of Dushanbe, a child rehabilitation centre, the national reproductive centre and a district hospital in Varzob, as well as the Tajik State Medical University.

Address to students at Avicenna Tajik State Medical University

On 24 October 2014, also World Polio Day, the Crown Princess spoke to medical students in Dushanbe. She commended both the Government of Tajikistan and WHO on their collaboration and continuing efforts to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health in the country. Referring to her visit the previous day to the child rehabilitation centre in Dushanbe, when she met children with disabilities, their parents, and medical staff, the Crown Princess underlined the importance of strong national immunization programmes and the right of every individual to have access to immunization at every stage of life.

“Meeting with polio survivors yesterday and seeing the devastating effects of vaccine-preventable diseases strongly reinforced for all of us the essential nature of maintaining high vaccination coverage. The polio outbreak in Tajikistan and in the Region was admirably controlled, as a result of well coordinated efforts and successful vaccination campaigns. However, the outbreak emphasized that there is no room for complacency when it comes to vaccine-preventable diseases,” she said.

Poliomyelitis (polio) outbreak and disability rehabilitation in Tajikistan

In 2010, Tajikistan experienced the largest global polio outbreak since 2005, with over 460 cases. Many of the children affected developed physical impairments that require long-term rehabilitation care. Rehabilitation services are also needed in the country for other children with multiple impairments; people affected by diabetes, strokes, road-traffic accidents and landmines; and older people with reduced mobility.

To address the lack of services, the WHO Country Office, Tajikistan, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, is implementing a programme from 2013 to 2016, to develop national rehabilitation policy, system and services, focusing on community-based rehabilitation and development of human-resource capacity for service provision.