According to the WHO, the war in Ukraine has disrupted life-saving immunizations, reversing years of progress in combating vaccine-preventable diseases.
This week is World Immunization Week, a time to celebrate the wonders of vaccines, which have saved the lives of millions. Bhanu Bhatnagar, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, spoke about vaccinations at an immunization center in Rivne Oblast, a Ukrainian province near the border with Belarus.
The center is located in a technical college that has been converted into a residence for approximately 100 internally displaced people. Bhatnagar says he’s come to help the Ukrainian Health Ministry with the rollout of routine and catch-up immunizations for children, adolescents, and adults.
“There are a lot of kids coming through.” Parents are bringing their children to catch up on vital, potentially life-saving immunizations such as measles, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and the COVID-19 vaccine. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are particularly vulnerable. They were evicted from their homes. The healthcare system is in crisis, and many people do not have access to it.
According to Bhatnagar, health needs do not cease during a war, and it is critical to maintain immunisation activities, particularly during a pandemic. Prior to the war, he claims, Ukraine was a poster child for health-care reform, making great strides in preventing vaccine-preventable diseases.
Unfortunately, he claims that this progress has been halted. He mentions a polio outbreak in the country just before the war began. He claims that the conflict has hampered the rollout of polio vaccines, which began in February.
“That is why, once again, it is critical that we get a polio vaccine into the hands of children.” Even one child with polio puts every other child at risk, as does any child who is under or unvaccinated… However, only 44 percent of the targeted children, or approximately 69,000 children, have received a polio vaccine at this time.”
Despite the challenges of the war, COVID-19 vaccines are still being distributed, according to a WHO spokesman. However, the country only has 40% coverage across the board, which he claims is lower than the rest of Europe’s average.
According to the most recent reports, there have been nearly five million coronavirus cases, with over 108,000 deaths.