Regional Director commends Uzbekistan on polio immunization campaign

WHO

Ms Zuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, spoke to journalists about the importance of immunizing children against poliomyelitis during a visit to Uzbekistan on 6-7 June 2010

Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, is in Uzbekistan on 6–7 June 2010, to help raise awareness of the importance of immunization. Her first official visit coincides with the second round of a national campaign to immunize all children under 5 years of age, including those living in remote areas, against poliomyelitis (polio).

The Uzbek Government organized the campaign in response to a polio outbreak in neighbouring Tajikistan, reported in April 2010. “The risk of polio importation is significant and poses a considerable risk to children’s health. I would like to commend the Government’s efforts to take urgent action to prevent the possible spread of the virus in Uzbekistan,” said Ms Jakab at a press conference in the capital, Tashkent, today. Ms Jakab also recognized the important contribution to the campaign made by international partners such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States of America, the United Nations Development programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

During her visit, Ms Jakab discussed other health priorities with Dr Adham Ikramov, Minister of Health of Uzbekistan, including maternal and newborn health, the development of a national strategy to prevent chronic diseases, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and pandemic-prone diseases. The Regional Director noted the significant changes in the Uzbek health sector in the last 20 years, and assured the Government of WHO’s commitment to supporting its work to address existing and future health challenges.