23 October 2016

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U.S., Canada Ambassadors urge putting routine immunization in Ukraine back on track

Ukraine currently has the lowest routine immunization rates in the world. According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health, as of August 2016, only 30% of children in Ukraine were fully immunized against measles, only 10%, against hepatitis B, and only 3% of against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.

Photo from UNIAN
Photo from UNIAN

Vaccine supply shortages in the past years have contributed to the critically low immunization rates in Ukraine. To address these shortages, at the request of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, UNICEF has procured a number of vaccines to protect children against dangerous vaccine-preventable diseases including BCG (vaccine against tuberculosis), MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) Hepatitis B, DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), Td (tetanus and diphtheria vaccine for adults), DT (paediatric diphtheria and tetanus vaccine), rabies, and bOPV (bivalent oral polio vaccine). All these vaccines have now been delivered to Ukraine, and are available in health facilities across the country, including in the Children's Policlinic No. 2 in Kyiv, UN in Ukraine wrote in a report.

Current vaccine supplies are sufficient to cover 4-6 months of routine immunization needs in Ukraine. The 2016 agreement between UNICEF and the Ministry of Health for procurement of vaccines and antiretroviral drugs is in the process of being finalized.

"We are urging the Ministry of Health and all health workers in Ukraine to bring the routine immunization back on track while working towards significant increase of vaccine coverage," said Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Ukraine Representative. "We are happy to support the Ukrainian Government and the Ministry of Health in particular in reforming the procurement system to be effective, well planned and timely," she added.

Three-stage polio vaccination program launched across UkraineGovernments of the United States of America and Canada have been supporting Ukraine in restoring its routine immunization program and responding to the polio outbreak in 2015-2016. Specifically, the Government of the United States of America has supported an extensive capacity development program for health workers and funded an information campaign for parents, which is currently being rolled out. The Government of Canada has supported the strengthening of vaccine cold chain in all regions of Ukraine in addition to supplying the country with the polio vaccine last year.

"The U.S. Government provided $1 million in support of UNICEF's polio response in Ukraine in 2015 and $800,000 for immunization awareness this year. It is important that parents know to bring their children in for vaccination," said H.E. Marie Yovanovitch, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

"Canada worked hard last year with Ukraine's Health Ministry to get nationwide polio vaccination restarted. We are grateful to the thousands of doctors who helped vaccinate millions of children. This year, we are happy to see that the UN has made more vaccines available. But still, far too many children are not routinely fully vaccinated. I urge Ukrainian parents to take advantage of these free vaccines, and protect their children from completely unnecessary illnesses," said H.E. Roman Waschuk, Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine.

"The level of vaccination in Ukraine must reach the European level. With the help of our international partners, we have established a supply of quality vaccines in Ukraine and work to restore the routine vaccination. We are urging health professionals and parents to vaccinate their children to protect their lives and health," said Dr. Ulana Suprun, Acting Minister of Health of Ukraine.

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