Baku, September 7 AZERTAC
UNICEF and WHO call on parents in Ukraine to vaccinate their children, as efforts are urgently underway to distribute vaccines to all areas of the country, following a confirmed polio outbreak. Polio is an infectious disease that can cause paralysis or even death.
The two cases, which were confirmed by a WHO regional reference laboratory, are children living in Zakarpatska oblast, one aged 10 months and the other aged 4 years, who were not vaccinated against polio and became paralysed after contracting a circulating form of the poliovirus. This occurred because of the chronically low immunization coverage in the country.
"The only effective way to protect children from polio is vaccination. The available vaccines supplied by UNICEF should be used as soon as possible to ensure children are protected from polio in Ukraine," said Giovanna Barberis, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.
Outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus can be rapidly stopped through full implementation of urgent outbreak response by rapidly immunizing children with the oral polio vaccines (OPV). Currently, the awareness among Ukrainians about the risks of the disease is low. Only 18 per cent of Ukrainian mothers think that polio is an acute dangerous disease and only 27 per cent know that it bears the risks of paralysis, according to a 2014 UNICEF/WHO survey.
UNICEF and WHO experts are working closely with the Ministry of Health to provide a quick and robust response in order to rapidly stop circulation of the virus.
WHO and UNICEF continue to provide immediate support to the Government of Ukraine in protecting children and preventing further spread of the poliovirus.