Measles and rubella vaccination called to protect Ukraine

A joint World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Ministry of Health Care of Ukraine (MOH) press conference will take place on 15 November 2007 to provide media with the “first hand” information on the measles and rubella vaccination campaign scheduled for April 2008 in Ukraine.

WHO Regional Office for Europe set a target of measles and rubella elimination by 2010. Half of the countries of the region have already interrupted measles transmission and reported number of measles cases in the Region fell from 200, 000 in 1994 to 30, 000 in 2003. However, measles remains one of the most important causes of childhood mortality worldwide. It claimed an estimated 4,850 young lives in the WHO European Region in 2003.

Last year, Ukraine experienced an unprecedented outbreak of measles. According to the MOH estimates of the MOH, some 45,000 cases of measles were registered in Ukraine, making it up to 80 per cent of all registered cases in Europe. Majority of cases were among adults, and four individuals died.” This outbreak was caused by lower vaccine effectiveness, decreasing immunization coverage and poor vaccine handling in early 1990s.

Measles vaccination is the most cost-effective public health intervention available for preventing deaths. To attain measles elimination, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, w ith the support from WHO and UNICEF, with support from WHO and UNICEF developed a strategy on supplemental immunization for persons 16 to 29 years old in order to achieve measles elimination. Measles vaccination is the most cost-effective public health intervention available for preventing deaths. The campaign will target most susceptible age groups and prevent new outbreaks of measles.


A team of the MOH, UNICEF and WHO experts from the Ministry of Health , UNICEF and WHO will provide more details of the forthcoming activities, highlight importance and benefits of immunization for the young population and answer related questions.

The invited experts are as follows:

- Dr Lyudmyla Mukharska, Head of Communicable Diseases Department, at the MOH of Ukraine

- Dr Riita Poutiainen, Deputy Representative, UNICEF Country Office in Ukraine

- Dr Amra Uzicanin, Medical Epidemiologist, Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC/Atlanta)

- Dr Chinara Aidyralieva, WHO Medical Officer, Measles Elimination and Hepatitis B Control

- Dr Kateryna Bulavinova, Medical Officer, WHO Country Office in Ukraine

- Dr Margarita Balasanyan, WHO consultant

The press conference will take place at the UNIAN (or Ukrainian Tchas) press room on Thursday, 15 November 2007 at 15:30 pm (10 am) at: 4 Khreshchatyk St. (2  Khreshchatyk St.).

For accreditation or more information please contact Ms. Myroslava Korenevych, Advocacy and Social Mobilization Officer, WHO Country Office in Ukraine at: (044) 425 8828 ext. 78417, e-mail: .


More on supplementary immunization

All countries in the WHO European Region use highly effective and safe measles and rubella vaccines. These vaccines contain a live virus modified from natural or “wild” strains, so as to markedly reduce the risk of serious reactions but maintain the ability to induce long-lasting immunity.

Measles and rubella antibodies develop in 95% of persons following a single dose, and over 90% of people develop a life-long immunity.

Supplementary immunization activities (SIA) are identified in the WHO European Regional strategy for measles and congenital rubella infection as an effective and efficient method to rapidly develop the level of population immunity required to meet Regional objectives for these diseases. SIA is designed to target persons known to be at risk, using epidemiological data.

WHO has developed a strategic plan and surveillance guidance for measles and congenital rubella infection in the WHO European Region. These documents identify key strategies to meet the objectives of interrupting indigenous measles transmission and preventing congenital rubella infection (< 1 case of congenital rubella syndrome per 100 000 live births) by 2010 and provide technical advice on the design and implementation of surveillance programs for these diseases. More information is available at:

The iImmunization programme achieved remarkable decrease of vaccine preventable diseases and thus became a victim of its own success. As a result, it is seen as having lower priority and less value. Yet, iImmunization remains a priority in the Region.

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