Following a successful pilot program to build capacity among primary health care and public health staff to improve disease surveillance and immunization services related to poliomyelitis, measles, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis and mumps, the Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine together with the World Health Organization (WHO) will now be launching this initiative country wide.

Pilot training events were conducted in November and December 2019 in Sievierodonetsk City for participants in Luhansk government-controlled area (GCA) and along the contact line, the WHO said.

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Recognizing the importance of addressing a wide range of professionals, the program included audience-tailored sessions for subnational level decision-makers, members of regional surveillance taskforces, and public health and primary health care specialists.

The program will be first implemented in Donetsk GCA in early 2020, before it becomes available in all regions of Ukraine, to strengthen the immunization program across the country.

The goal of this program is to ensure that the immunization program does not have any weak spots that could jeopardize population-wide protection against vaccine-preventable diseases. The training focuses, for example, on infection control to reduce the risk of spreading disease, timely contact tracing and outreach for vaccination. The program trains staff based on surveillance and immunization standards established at the global level and aligned with the national requirements recently endorsed by the government of Ukraine.

The program was developed by WHO in collaboration with the Public Health Center, senior experts from universities and postgraduate institutes, and leading specialists from subnational health institutions.

The launch of the program was made possible by financial support from the government of Italy. Implementation is part of the Biennial Collaborative Agreement between WHO and the government of Ukraine.