Tajikistan introduces rotavirus vaccine to protect children from diarrhoeal disease

WHO

Dr Jafarov Navruz, Deputy Minister of Health, immunizes the first child in Tajikistan to receive rotavirus vaccine as part of the routine immunization schedule

With an official launch ceremony on 8 January 2015, Tajikistan became the fourteenth country in the WHO European Region to introduce rotavirus vaccination into its national immunization schedule, and the fifth to do so through the generous support of the GAVI Alliance.

In Tajikistan, severe diarrhoea leads to hundreds of preventable child deaths per year, and surveillance data indicate that rotavirus causes almost 40% of hospitalizations due to severe diarrhoea. Vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from rotavirus infections, and giving the vaccine to every child at 2 and 4 months of age will therefore lead to a significant decrease in child morbidity and mortality in Tajikistan.

Preparing vaccinators and building national support

As part of countrywide preparations for introducing the new vaccine, WHO/Europe supported the Ministry of Health and Social Protection in building a cadre of health workers who could conduct cascade training in all regions of Tajikistan. The training focused on evidence for the introduction of rotavirus vaccine, rotavirus epidemiology, the benefits of vaccination for young infants, vaccine administration, contraindications, precautions and potential adverse reactions.

To raise awareness and ensure broad support, WHO and the Ministry’s Republican Centre for Immunoprophylaxis held a national conference on rotavirus vaccine introduction on 30 October 2014 for various ministry departments and medical academe. In addition, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is supporting the development of a communication strategy and training for paediatricians and family doctors implementing the immunization programme in the country.

Support from GAVI Alliance

The GAVI Alliance and its partners plan to support the introduction of rotavirus vaccines in over 30 of the world’s poorest countries. In the European Region, such support has been provided to Armenia, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Uzbekistan.