The Day continues to monitor the situation connected with the inoculations against measles and German measles in Ukraine. The conflict between the state authorities and the Ukrainian medical community is becoming increasingly heated. International organizations are also getting involved. The World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC based in Atlanta, Georgia, US) have expressed their regret about the suspension of the national anti-measles vaccination campaign in Ukraine. They are convinced that there will be a new outbreak of measles and other infectious diseases.
In their joint appeal to Ukraine, these health organizations state that in 2005-06 Ukraine experienced outbreaks of measles, as a result of which 50,000 young people became sick. In 2002, a total of 100,000 thousand people came down with the measles. That is why international experts have appealed to the Ukrainian authorities, suggesting that, in order to restore people’s confidence in immunization, they complete as quickly as possible their investigation into the death of a 17-year-old boy in Kramatorsk.
With this goal in mind, Ukraine’s Minister of Health Vasyl Kniazevych has initiated an international inquiry into the consequences of measles vaccination in Ukraine. On May 22 he left for Switzerland to attend a meeting in Geneva with the WHO’s director-general to explain what is going on in Ukraine. According to the minister’s data, 109,000 Ukrainians have been vaccinated, and there were no fatalities besides the Kramatorsk case.
Ukraine’s health minister is urging medical personnel, politicians, and members of the public not to engage in speculations or inflame the scandal, as this will only worsen the situation. Meanwhile, some Ukrainian doctors think otherwise. According to Andrii Shkurba, an associate professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Ivan Bohomolets National Medical University, it is useless to conduct mass immunization against measles in Ukraine because over 60 percent of Ukrainians are already immune to the disease.
“There is no risk of a measles or German measles epidemic in Ukraine. Last year we recorded 986 cases of measles. According to data compiled by the WHO, there were no cases of measles-infected births. Although there were over a thousand cases of measles in Switzerland and Britain in 2007, they didn’t start mass immunization there,” Shkurba said.
Despite this optimistic evaluation, the WHO, UNICEF, and the CDC warn that “without a campaign there will be new outbreaks of infection in Ukraine... International partners in health protection are urging the Ukrainian government to confirm its commitments to the WHO strategy of eradicating measles in Europe by 2010,” says their joint appeal.
International experts also disagree with theoretical biologist Academician Natalia Okolitenko, who is the deputy director of the Informational and Wave Technologies Research Institute. She believes that the Indian vaccine, which is injected during immunization, is not suited to Europeans. Yet the WHO, UNICEF, and the CDC state emphatically that the measles vaccine that is being used in Ukraine was vetted by the WHO and produced according to the highest international standards.
They also say that the Serum Institute of India is the world’s largest producer of measles vaccines. Two out of every three children vaccinated against measles have been inoculated with the vaccine made by that producer. “This measles vaccine has an excellent preliminary history of usage in Europe and the countries of the CIS. Over 34 million young people have been immunized with this vaccine. The measles vaccine from the same producer has been used in Ukraine since 2002. Over 1.3 million people have been inoculated there,” the WHO said.
The most important things now are patience and a sober evaluation of the course of events. No matter how tempting it may be to criticize the Ukrainian government for negligence, it will do no good to sow panic. The vaccinations that have been suspended in Ukraine are a vital procedure that secures a person’s future health.ao hold aof measles in Switzerland and Britain, they don’ainians are already immune to the desey, view. According to Andriy Shkurba, the reader of the chambergic cases except the one mentioned.