On November 24, Vaccines Summit dedicated to the issues of establishing a long-term strategy for protecting the population against vaccine preventable diseases was held in Kyiv. The event was organized by Chamber Member Company GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ukraine with support of the Embassy of Belgium, the British Embassy in Ukraine and the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine.
During the Vaccines Summit representatives of the governmental and non-governmental institutions, international and Ukrainian experts in the area of pediatrics, immunology and infectious diseases stressed the hazards of the outbreaks of the infectious diseases, the critical situation in covering Ukraine’s population with immunization and presented their vision and a draft action plan for overcoming the crisis. President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine Andy Hunder moderated one of the Summit’s panel discussions.
According to 2015 data, as few as 11.5% of infants in the first year of life had been vaccinated against tuberculosis, 39% – against polio, fewer than 2% – against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis; 4% – against haemophilus. At the same time in all neighboring countries the vaccination coverage of children is over 90%.
Acting Minister of Health of Ukraine Ulana Suprun stressed that Ukraine currently has one of the lowest vaccination coverage rates worldwide. Such indicators manifest that there is a threat to the national security and the high probability of outbreaks of dangerous diseases.
Ensuring appropriate rates of coverage with preventive vaccines and putting in place uninterrupted supply of vaccines is one of the key priorities for Ukraine’s Health Ministry. Handling such a difficult situation is only possible by joining the efforts of representatives of the legislative and executive authorities, media, healthcare experts and community.
There is another fact, which makes the situation even more complicated as Ukraine currently does not have an all-national program for immuno-preventive efforts and public protection against infectious diseases with the previous program coming to its end in 2015. To improve the situation with the coverage of the population with vaccination and long-term planning, it is critical that a long-term immuno-preventive strategy is created and a complex plan for improving the vaccination indicators, primarily among children and risk populations is produced.
A crucial role of the media in disseminating fair information on the benefits of vaccine prevention among the population was stressed in a speech of the Head of Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on Public Health, MP Olga Bogomolets.
Vaccination is a fundamental right of each person to a healthy life and the greatest achievement of modern medicine. Today, 30 diseases can be prevented with vaccination. Each year immunization saves 3 million lives, 1.5 of them are children.
Ambassador of Belgium to Ukraine Luc Jacobs shared with the audience Belgium’s successful vaccination policy, also addressing the ethical questions related to immunization, resulting in a near total vaccination coverage. Highlighting the essential role of government in the prevention of infectious diseases, he quoted Erasmus, the renowned humanist of the Northern Renaissance: “It is not the least, but probably even the most important duty of governments to see that citizens are in good health. What’s the point of having chased the enemy from the city walls, when inside the walls more people die of infectious diseases than were killed by the enemy’s sword”.
First Secretary, Head of Commercial Section of the British Embassy in Ukraine Creena Lavery pointed out that a long-term all-national immunization program and an action plan to implement it is a basic requirement of international and European healthcare norms and are an integral part of Ukraine’s Euro-integration process.
Implementation of accomplishments of global immunization programs were highlighted by Richard Adegbola, Global Director, Scientific Affairs and Public Health, GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines, Belgium: “It is not vaccines but vaccination that is of real importance for public health. Immunization is one of the most effective tools of a public healthcare system in controlling the incidence, mortality and disability, with the impact of the former compared only to providing a population with clean portable water.”
Katerina Bulavinova, UNICEF medical expert in Ukraine stressed on riding out of the public vaccination crisis in the country that requires a clear and detailed long-term action plan approved at the state level. While the issue of public immunization should be identified by the state as a priority unless a 95% vaccination coverage rate for the population is achieved.
An important phase of the Vaccine Summit was joint development of the immunization strategy components. Summit participants acknowledged the necessity of prompt creation of an all-national program for protecting the population against infectious diseases for the period 2017-2022. As a result of group work, key action plan components for three strategic Program’s areas were harmonized:
1) Creation of a long-term National Immunization Strategy,:
• a smooth monitoring and controlling system for relevant vaccine preventable diseases;
• improvement of the National Immunization Calendar;
• long-term vaccines forecasting system satisfying the patient needs;
• long-term contracts with the reliable vaccine producers;
• adaptation of existing legislation for long-term strategy implementation a smooth logistics system with the cold chain requirement control in place.
2) Creation of a National Information Campaign on the burden of vaccine-controlled infections and value of vaccination.
3) Enhance the professional skills of medical workers, which includes:
• education programs for doctors of all specializations and medical nurses;
• development of a motivation system for medical workers in meeting preventive KPI’s.
“GlaxoSmithKline Ukraine does its best to resume the levels of confidence in preventive vaccination and public protection against vaccine-controlled infections, – said Alyona Lykhovets, Managing Director, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ukraine. – For 10 years the company has been hosting information campaigns on vaccination benefits, education programs among doctors and medical nurses and offers expertise on the adoption of the best international practices. The most recent example of the company’s education efforts is the launch of the www.moi-privivki.com web-site.”
As a result of the Vaccines Summit 2016, a resolution comprising suggestions on the creation of a long-term National Immunization Strategy to protect the people against vaccine-controlled diseases and a concept for an all-national program to protect the public against infectious diseases for the period 2017-2022, in particular, was approved.
Attendees also expressed their support for the interest revealed by the government in enhanced national security in Ukraine and refocusing from the policy of disease treatment to disease prevention, which is the most effective and economically feasible strategy for ensuring epidemiological well-being in the society. In addition, a resolution on filing a request with UNICEF and WHO representatives on providing support for immunization information and education programs in Ukraine was endorsed.
Participants of the Vaccines Summit unanimously supported the suggestions spelled out in the Vaccines Summit 2016 resolution and expressed hope that the adoption of the above suggestions would enable the government to ensure the maximal protection of the population through effective solutions and transparent procedures.