Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and WHO Regional Director for Europe encourage Moldovan parents to continue vaccinating their children

WHO/Igor Vrabie

While visiting the Institute for Mother and Child Health in the Republic of Moldova, The Crown Princess of Denmark had an opportunity to meet Olga Schinu and her brand-new baby

"Immunization saves lives. Apart from safe drinking-water, no other health intervention has reduced diseases and mortality as effectively and safely as vaccination. No child should suffer from illness, from lifelong disability or die due to vaccine-preventable diseases. Every child has the right to be immunized."

This was the message of Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Denmark when she visited the Republic of Moldova on 23–25 November 2016 in her role as Patron of WHO/Europe. Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, accompanied the Crown Princess on her visit.

The visit took place at the invitation of Minister of Health of the Republic of Moldova Mrs Ruxanda Glavan, with the aim of focusing on the importance of women’s and children’s health, maintaining momentum on immunization and addressing antimicrobial resistance. The programme included visits to the Ministry of Health; the National Centre for Public Health and its national vaccine storage facility; the Institute for Mother and Child Health; the State University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Nicolae Testemiţanu”; the University Centre for Simulation in Medical Training; and the University Clinic for Primary Health Care.

The Crown Princess and the Regional Director had valuable opportunities to meet with parents and children as they learned more about the health system in the Republic of Moldova, and specifically about immunization and maternal and child health within the country.

Public health progress highlighted

During their meeting at the Ministry of Health, The Crown Princess and the Regional Director were briefed on ongoing health reforms in the Republic of Moldova and the challenges remaining to be addressed. Dr Jakab welcomed the notable progress already made and currently underway in the area of maternal and child health, including the halving of infant mortality rates in the last 15 years, with maternal mortality following the same trend; WHO validation for eliminating mother-to-child transmission of syphilis; a national sexual and reproductive health action plan currently in development for 2017–2021; and a child and adolescent health and development strategy currently being finalized.

Dr Jakab commented at the meeting, “We hope the Government will continue to focus on improving the quality of maternal and child health care services and address health inequities, so that ultimately all women and their children have access to vital health services. With the commitment already shown by the Government, and with the support of development partners, including WHO, much can be achieved in this area.”

The meeting with key specialists at the National Centre for Public Health highlighted the need to unite all efforts for enhanced surveillance and control of antimicrobial resistance. Dr Jakab remarked, “The Republic of Moldova aims at adopting its comprehensive national antimicrobial resistance work plan soon. I was very glad to learn that all relevant sectors are involved in this work – the problem cannot be solved without multisectoral cooperation.”
The visit to the National Centre for Public Health’s vaccine storage facility provided an overview of vaccine storage and the conditions necessary to ensure the safety of the immunization process. After this visit, The Crown Princess shared her views with journalists, saying, “My children are vaccinated, as I was. The importance and benefits of immunization should be promoted regularly to remove suspicions. Also, we must remain focused on the scientific evidence related to vaccines and provide children with the right to vaccination.”

Honorary doctorates in recognition of contributions to public health

On 24 November 2016, the State University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Nicolae Testemițanu” brought together representatives of the university and scientific community for a special event at which The Crown Princess and Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab were awarded honorary doctorates (doctor honoris causa) and honorary professorships at the School of Public Health Management.

The visit continued the following day at the University Centre for Simulation in Medical Training, which has implemented modern education methods and simulation-based training to develop medical competences and skills.

Introductions to a young boy named Aron at the immunization office and a little girl named Ekaterina at the family doctor office of the University Clinic of Primary Health Care ended the visit on a very positive, personal note. As The Crown Princess highlighted in her public address, “Together we can build a society where no one is left behind and where the highest attainable standard of health is enjoyed by all, at all life stages.”