Ensuring the continuation of immunization services in Uzbekistan
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) -- A new international study suggests that suspending routine immunization during a pandemic could save one person from dying from COVID-19, but would lead to 84 children dying from vaccine-preventable diseases.
A new international study suggests that suspending routine immunization during a pandemic could save one person from dying from COVID-19, but would kill 84 children from vaccine-preventable diseases. UNICEF works with international partners and the government of the Republic of Uzbekistan to ensure the continuous implementation of the immunization program in the country, preserving the health of medical personnel and the population. To this end, UNICEF assists in the provision of medical supplies, including personal protective equipment, to primary health care personnel.
“We must all realize that a break in routine vaccination can lead to the fact that many forgotten and dangerous infections and diseases for babies and adults can return,” says Nasiba Tairova, head of the expanded immunization program at the Tashkent Regional Center for Sanitary and Epidemiological Welfare. “Despite the quarantine, we cannot and should not suspend preventive vaccinations. At the same time, both health care workers and parents should observe precautions during the vaccination process and follow the required rules."
Vazira Mutalova, head of the Expanded Immunization Program at the Tashkent City Center for Sanitary and Epidemiological Well-being, explains the importance of continuous provision of personal protective equipment: “The immunization service may suspend its activities if personal protective equipment is not available. This issue can also affect the operation of the patronage system, the supply of vaccines, and supportive supervision and monitoring. "
Despite the limitations associated with the pandemic, the Ministry of Health has taken steps to continue immunization services in the country. In Tashkent polyclinics, under quarantine conditions, children are immunized up to three times a week, in the regions - every two weeks. At all vaccination points in the republic, special precautions are taken during a pandemic, developed by the Ministry of Health. This is a strict hourly schedule of immunization, limiting the number of patients and maintaining social distance in order to prevent transmission of infection, as well as measuring body temperature at the entrance to the clinic. Nurses and doctors wear special protective gowns, masks and gloves, and treat their hands with disinfectants.
In order to prevent serious disruptions in the vaccination schedule, UNICEF, with the support of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), purchased and delivered personal protective equipment to sanitary and epidemiological well-being centers in all regions of the country. A total of 820,000 boxes of disposable masks, 25,000 boxes of medical gloves, 8,000 boxes of gowns and caps, 4,000 liters of hand sanitizer and 130 kg of disinfectant powder were donated to health facilities. As a result, more than 4,000 health workers, including 3,000 primary care vaccinators, have the means to protect themselves and their patients.
“We all need to realize that a break in routine vaccination can lead to the fact that many infections and diseases, already forgotten and dangerous for children and adults, can return.”
Thanks to the joint efforts of the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO and GAVI, platforms for optimizing cold chain equipment have been created in Uzbekistan, ensuring safe vaccination of the population.
“UNICEF assisted in the construction of warehouses for vaccines, the purchase of refrigeration equipment, as well as practical assistance through training specialists in this field. This helped improve immunization services,” says Nasiba Tairova. "With the cold chain and newly built warehouses, we can provide quality vaccination services."
The health benefits of routine immunization far outweigh the benefits of stopping vaccinations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. UNICEF is committed to helping government and health services as they struggle to protect children across the country from both vaccine-preventable diseases and COVID-19.