UNICEF helps Uzbekistan’s capital to immunize youth against measles, rubella

UNICEF helps Uzbekistan’s capital to immunize youth against measles, rubella

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In health facilities and bazaars, schools and mahallas (traditional neighbourhood committees) more than 620,000 young people in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, are being vaccinated against measles and rubella in a mass United Nations-backed immunization campaign running until 25 December.

The young people, aged 10 to 29 will be vaccinated free of charge, regardless of their previous immunization status, in the campaign, which is being carried out by Health Ministry in collaboration with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United States aid agency USAID.

“Immunization is essential for people, and especially children, to realize their right to the highest attainable standard of health,” UNICEF representative Reza Hossaini said. “And it is also an affordable means of protecting whole communities against measles.”

Young people will be vaccinated at health facilities, schools, colleges, universities and institutes, mahallas, bazaars and other fixed sites in the city. More than a 1,000 medical workers are being mobilized for the campaign, following training by the Health Ministry.

UNICEF has been working with local partners to spread the word among parents and caregivers to ensure that every eligible child is vaccinated. This has included communication and social mobilization through the mass media, door-to-door visits to parents and caregivers and support from prominent youth figures.

The 750,000 doses of measles-rubella vaccine needed, together with syringes, were purchased and donated by USAID. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recruited a team of local epidemiologists to monitor the campaign for safety.

The economic arguments for investing in measles are compelling. Of all health interventions, measles immunization carries the highest health return for the money spent, saving more lives per unit cost. The measles-rubella vaccine, which has been available for more than 30 years, cost around $0.65 per dose, including safe injection equipment.