Princess Mathilde of Belgium to visit Albania as WHO special representative: focus on frontline health workers and immunization

Brussels, Copenhagen, 21 March 2012

The Belgian Court and WHO/Europe today announced that Her Royal Highness Princess Mathilde, WHO’s Special Representative for Immunization, will visit Albania from 28 to 30 March 2012 to meet with and advocate for frontline health care workers.

Princess Mathilde is committed to focusing on health care workers, and recognizing their critical role in immunization. They represent the forefront of any national immunization programme and, despite the wealth of information available on childhood immunization, they remain the source most trusted by parents.

“I am eager to meet with health care workers and listen to their experiences,” said Princess Mathilde. “I hope to gain a better understanding of the challenges they face and the way they communicate with parents about immunization. It is so vital for health workers to actively support and motivate parents to vaccinate our future generations. But in turn we must give health workers the support they need to do this effectively.”

During her visit, Princess Mathilde will have the opportunity to meet with health workers, visit primary and community health centres, hold a roundtable discussion with frontline health workers and visit a school to learn more about school-based vaccination and outreach through the education sector. Her visit will also include meetings with health care decision-makers and senior dignitaries.

The Albanian Minister of Health, Dr Petrit Vasili, welcomed the Princess’s visit and the opportunity it offers to highlight the importance of frontline health workers, saying, “We look forward to hosting Her Royal Highness Princess Mathilde in Albania, and appreciate her highlighting the work of health workers and emphasizing their role as the backbone of the national immunization programme.”

Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, also praised Princess Mathilde’s commitment to health care workers, which will raise awareness of their importance and call attention to their needs: “Continuing outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, across the European Region reinforce the challenges we face in meeting our elimination goals and the Millennium Development Goals. Frontline health workers play a key role in generating demand for vaccination among parents and ensuring that they follow national immunization schedules.”

European Immunization Week 2012

The WHO European Region will celebrate the seventh European Immunization Week (EIW) on 21–27 April 2012. A key message and aim will be raising awareness of the vital role of health workers in conducting national immunization programmes and increasing decision-makers’ support for these workers in participating countries.

Further information

To receive more information about Her Royal Highness Princess Mathilde’s visit to Albania, and an invitation to events open to members of the press, contact:

Robb Butler
Vaccine-preventable Diseases and Immunization
Tel.: +45 3917 1552