Armenians in Chicago Donate to MACVF to Secure Life-Saving Vaccines for Armenia’s Children

Support Grows for Newly Launched Capital Fund in Response to Vaccine Shortages

NEW YORK, October 19, 2001 – Armenians in the Chicago area gathered at the home of Christine and Jack Mardoian on September 23rd in a very strong show of support for the Millennium Armenian Children’s Vaccine Fund (MACVF). More than 50 individuals from a broad cross section of the Chicago Armenian-American community attended this event to hear Raffy Ardhaldjian, Chairman of the Ani & Narod Memorial Foundation, explain the vaccine shortages faced by Armenia’s children each year. This benefit, one of several planned around the country, raised more than $18,000 for the newly launched MACVF capital fund to purchase life-saving vaccines for children in Armenia. Pledges included a $3,000 “challenge grant” by a member of the Program Advisory Council for the MACVF.

“We have a responsibility to make sure every child in Armenia is guaranteed their basic right to be immunized against preventable diseases,” noted Christine and Jack Mardoian, the generous hosts of the fundraiser. “The MACVF is an excellent solution for ending Armenia’s vulnerability to vaccine shortages.”

Dr. Heratch Doumanian, a prominent Chicago radiologist and long-time benefactor of improving health care in Armenia, also addressed the audience to champion the MACVF’s mission. “The best thing we can do for the next generation in Armenia is to protect them from vaccine preventable diseases and avoid seeing the spread of infectious diseases that less fortunate societies have experienced,” Dr. Doumanian explained. He noted that the critical need for vaccines was also discussed at the July meeting of the 8th Armenian Medical Congress in Toronto.

With more than 37,000 newborn children needing routine vaccinations every year, Armenia currently imports all its vaccines and is fully dependent on foreign aid to finance its immunization needs. In 1999, the Ani & Narod Memorial Foundation (ANMF) established the Millennium Armenian Children’s Vaccine Fund, a board designated public-private capital fund, to raise the $1.4 million needed to ensure a steady stream of income to finance Armenia’s vaccine costs for the next 15 years and beyond.

In the first phase, the MACVF is working with Armenia’s Ministry of Health, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, to develop a comprehensive plan to introduce a combination vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) into Armenia in 2002.

The long-term goal of the MACVF is to help Armenia’s national immunization program become self-reliant in the financing and procurement of vaccines. Experts have acknowledged that unlike other countries in similar predicaments, Armenia has the know-how and a vaccine-delivery system that compares favorably with Western countries, yet suffers from a lack of vaccine supplies. Once the shortages are eliminated, Armenia can expect to achieve immunization coverage of 90 percent or better.

“Improving child survival in Armenia is a goal that is achievable and sustainable for many generations to come,” explained Raffy Ardhaldjian, chairman of the Ani & Narod Memorial Foundation, the organization spearheading the children’s immunization campaign. “We greatly appreciate the valuable donations by our friends in Chicago whose generosity will go a long way toward building a healthy future for Armenia’s children.”

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