Introduction of new vaccines in Turkmenistan
An expanded meeting of the Interagency Coordination Committee of the National Immunization Programme and members of the technical working group of the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan was held on 15 April 2011. The meeting participants discussed introducing new and under-utilized vaccines into the national immunization calendar, such as vaccines against hepatitis B, rubella and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), which Turkmenistan has already introduced. They also discussed introduction of three new vaccines - those against Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), human papilloma virus (HPV) and Hepatitis A.
Representatives of the National Working Group presented their first recommendations on introduction of each of the vaccines. Dr Bahtugul Karriyeva, Head of the WHO Country Office in Turkmenistan, also participated in the meeting and presented a range of position papers, tools and guidelines which are continuously being developed by WHO and partners, including Global Plan of Action for the Introduction of New and Under-utilized Vaccines; WHO-UNICEF Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and a WHO/UNICEF publication titled "Diarrhoea: why are children still dying and what can be done?".
Pneumococcal and HPV vaccines represent significant new interventions for reducing the burden of diarrhoeal disease, acute respiratory infections and cervical cancer. However, they are not the only new or established interventions for prevention and control of these diseases. These documents articulate the burden of pneumonia and diarrhoea, the fact that effective interventions to reduce mortality from these two conditions are available and that the introduction of new vaccines offers the opportunity to simultaneously scale up the use of other complementary interventions and create synergies between different health programmes to maximize benefits. In the area of cervical cancer prevention and control, HPV vaccines offer an important new prevention tool. An integrated approach to cervical cancer prevention and control which combines HPV vaccination and cervical screening and which reaches girls and women, regardless of income, will reduce cervical cancer deaths, improve equity in cervical cancer prevention, and improve the health of women. Dr Shafag Rahimova, Health and Nutrition Specialist from the UNICEF Country Office in Turkmenistan presented information on three vaccines' affordability and relative cost-effectiveness to determine the value for money of the new vaccines. It was decided that the Working Group will continue its work on the recommendations development with technical assistance from WHO and UNICEF and the final decision on introduction of new vaccines will be made by the Interagency Coordination Committee in the beginning of the next year.
A National Immunization Programme for 2003-2020 was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan in 2003 to eliminate and decrease morbidity and mortality from a range of infections preventable with vaccination. The Interagency Coordination Committee ensures provision of financial support and support in development and implementation of strategic options on sustaining and improvement of immunization service.