National conference raises awareness and support for rotavirus vaccine introduction in Tajikistan
According to the latest sentinel surveillance data, almost 40% of hospitalizations for diarrhoea among children under age 5 in Tajikistan is caused by rotavirus. Introduction of the rotavirus vaccine in the country, planned for 2015, will significantly decrease morbidity and mortality caused by this disease.
To raise awareness and ensure broad support for the new vaccine, WHO and the Republican Immunoprophylaxis Center under the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population held a national conference on rotavirus vaccine introduction on 30 October 2014 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Participants represented various ministry departments, medical academia and partners, including the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Agha Khan Foundation. As teachers, medical practitioners, and decision-makers this group is considered to be particularly influential and important in terms of promoting vaccine uptake.
Guest speaker Dr Svetlana Grigorian shared experiences and lessons learnt from Armenia, where the vaccine was introduced in 2012. The ministry and WHO country office in Tajikistan also presented information on the situation at global and national levels.
Rotaviruses are the most common cause of severe diarrhoeal disease in young children throughout the world, and WHO therefore recommends that rotavirus vaccines be included in all national immunization programmes. With support from the GAVI Alliance, Tajikistan will be the fourteenth Member State in the WHO European Region to introduce rotavirus vaccine into its national immunization schedule.
Speaking at the conference, Dr Pavel Ursu, WHO Representative to Tajikistan, stated that “Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions around the globe. The Government’s political and financial commitment to childhood immunization in Tajikistan is much appreciated.”