Ellyn Ogden, USAID coordinator for polio eradication initiative: vaccine is safe, we need to stop arguing and start vaccinating children


Kyiv, October 9 2015. Coordinator of the US Agency on International Development (USAID) for polio eradication Ellyn Odgen has said that vaccination coverage in Ukraine is one of the worst in the world. No other country in the world raises such concerns on the threat of polio to children. “Any country that found itself in such situation it is possible to stop outbreak within 3-4 months. Ukraine is already lagging behind schedule on this issue. This can undermine trust in Ukraine from the rest of Europe. Thus, it is vital to undertake all relevant urgent measures and vaccinate children to avoid an epidemic. We need active interaction on the level of the Minister of Health involving all the relevant institutions, which is advocated by international community. Should no corresponding steps be made, it will mean the government is not taking care of children, which will have a negative impact on the international economic image of the country.”

Doctor Dorit Nitzan, World Health Organization representative to Ukraine, yet again reminded that a unified response must be undertaken to the outbreak: “We do hope that, the Cabinet of Ministers will provide support to the vaccination campaign. This two drops of vaccine are going to defeat an ‘internal enemy’ that appeared in Ukraine.  It’s a cruel disease. I call upon everyone to take the sensible steps and free the country from polio.”

“According to our recent data, 70 percent of parents in Ukraine started realising the importance of vaccination. It is a very positive signal for us,” informed Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.

An action plan of for polio eradication has already been developed and the Minister of Health Oleksandr Kvitashvili signed the corresponding decree. Soon the ministry will draw up instructions for the regions  thus providing the green light for comprehensive vaccination. “A polio outbreak may result in really grave consequences, so we are going to act in compliance with standards and instructions developed worldwide,” said Oleksandr Kvitashvili. “Polio vaccines have been distributed throughout the regions. We held trainings with support of international partners so that every local doctor understands  how to act in conditions of an outbreak. We still lack over 6.5 million doses of polio vaccine, but the Ministry of Health is negotiating with international partners to cover this demand.”