The newly appointed acting Minister of Healthcare strives to bring the issue of vaccination to the state level aiming at meeting the world standards in this sphere. Experts and activists call upon shared responsibility for vaccinating children.
Kyiv, August 2, 2016. Currently, the level of vaccination of newborns is very low in Ukraine. As of July 2016 only 11,5 per cent of infants have been vaccinated against tuberculosis, 39 per cent – against polio, less than 2 per cent – against pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus. These figures were provided by Ulyana Suprun, acting Minister of Healthcare of Ukraine, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “The problem is not only the availability of vaccines, but the fact that children are not being vaccinated. We, in the Ministry of Healthcare, have written the letters to the President of Ukraine and to the National Security and Defense (NSDC) Secretary, requiring achieving the level of vaccination recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO), 95 per cent of children. We also urged the NSDC to hold a meeting to consider the immunization as an important component of national security. The issue of vaccination must be solved at the state level,” noted Ms. Suprun.
Fedir Lapiy, chief pediatric immunologist, Chief Kyiv Healthcare Department, emphasized that 50 per cent of generalized tetanus cases end with the death of patients. “This disease can be completely prevented only with help of timely vaccination. No other ways exist. Serum can also be used, but this is an emergency treatment if vaccination has not been done in time,” stressed the chief pediatric immunologist. He noted that the state, which provides a vaccine, parents who vaccinate their children, and doctors who advise their patients properly, should share the responsibility for vaccinating children. “The population must have a commitment to vaccination. With hesitant parents and without competent medical personnel who directly provides the support, we will achieve nothing,” added Natalia Vynnyk, infectionist, executive director of the NGO “Immunization Shield for the Nation”. She also stressed on the key role the media play in this process.
According to Olga Stefanyshyna, executive director of charity foundation “Patients of Ukraine”, in 2007 mass immunization was carried out: 96 per cent of Ukrainians were vaccinated. Then cases of anti-vaccination campaigns took place, and the immunization level began to decrease. “The reason for it was corruption. The Healthcare Ministry tenders were always held with a corruption component. Besides, what we see in the media are manipulations and the vaccine market repartition,” says Ms. Stefanyshyna. This year, after handover of drug procurements to international organizations, we have managed to save 25 million hryvnias only on vaccines. Although many of the necessary vaccines have not been registered in Ukraine, the recently adopted law 4484 provides for a simplified procedure of their registration.
According to Tymofiy Badikov, head of the NGO “Parents for Vaccination”, activists are planning to publish a directory of vaccination with all the information about diseases and their consequences and to distribute it in health care institutions. “If parents knew all the information about a possible disease, they would have changed their minds,” he said.