Joint efforts to heighten immunization coverage in the Republic of Moldova
On the occasion of the European Immunization Week 2017, Republic of Moldova joined other countries across the European Region to raise awareness of the importance of immunization throughout the life course. With a particular focus on the recently endorsed National Immunization Programme for 2016–2020, a series of joint actions for parents, journalists and health professionals was organized by the Ministry of Health, National Centre for Public Health, WHO Country Office and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Country Office during the week.
A press club brought journalists from various media outlets together with United Nations and Government representatives, providing the former with comprehensive information and data from trusted sources on immunization topics including vaccine composition and safety, side effects and new vaccine introduction. The event was also joined by one of the biggest online communities of parents in the Republic of Moldova, “Ask a mom”, which is followed online by some 15 000 parents and grandparents.
Dr Aliona Serbulenco, Deputy Minister of Health, stressed that immunization is “the right and responsibility of each of us. We need to be aware of the fact that unjustified refusals of vaccines can increase the risk of recurrence of infectious diseases and epidemics. Vaccines are safe and we have to protect the health of our kids”.
Demonstration of improvements in vaccine supply and delivery
Specialists from the National Centre for Public Health organized an Open Door Day at the national vaccine storage facility, allowing media representatives to witness how the country has been investing in making quality vaccines available and keeping them safe and effective.
Raising awareness through communication
A number of information materials, including brochures targeting different groups (children, teenagers, adults, and health professionals) were produced and widely distributed, including in the Transnistrian region. A Facebook page – Vaccinare: Da sau Ba (Vaccination, Yes or No), run by public health specialists, was one of the channels used to reach parents, teenagers, health workers and others. Students from the Medicine and Pharmacy State University “Nicolae Testemitanu” in Chisinau also organized health promotion events and debates on immunization.
National immunization Programme
In 2016, the Republic of Moldova endorsed a new National Immunization Programme for 2016–2020, highlighting the country’s commitment to ensure vaccination against 12 vaccine-preventable diseases, build up the Public Health Service and increase immunization coverage to at least 95%. The Ministry of Health approved a Communication for Behaviour Change Strategy for the National Immunization Programme in February 2017, developed with UNICEF support, aiming to achieve high levels of sustained and equitable vaccination coverage, improve public trust in vaccines and create higher demand for immunization. Vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) to protect against cervical cancer and genital warts is planned to be introduced in Republic of Moldova in late 2017 with WHO support.