children in Armenia for the next 15 years. The vaccinations, given to
children in America as standard practice, cover serious diseases such
as diphtheria, hepatitis B, polio and tuberculosis.
"The need is enormous," said Eliza Karagezian, the fund's project
manager. "Without vaccines, children get sick with preventable
diseases and suffer needlessly. The financial infrastructure in
Armenia does not allow [the government] to provide children with
In the past, Armenia has relied on foreign aid from other nations
to provide the necessary vaccines, Karagezian said. This money raised
by the Millennium Fund will allow Armenia to be self-sufficient.
"Children in developing countries are under so much stress from
malnutrition and the environment that vaccines are a wonderful way to
make them less susceptible to other things, like diarrhea or
pneumonia," said Celia Woodfill, epidemiologist in the immunization
branch of California's Dept. of Health Services. "It's very good that
they're trying to go for 15 years, because then it could have a
sustained effect. If you could stop the disease in kids, you can stop
the disease in the community. Maybe by then, Armenia will have found
The fund is working with UNICEF and Armenia's Ministry of Health
to get the vaccines to children. Karagezian said the fund,
administered by the Ani & Narod Memorial Foundation, has raised $1.3
million, and she hopes to raise the additional $200,000 by the end of
When the fund reaches its goal of $1.5 million, it will have
enough money to vaccinate 560,000 children in Armenia.
"Having a healthy economy and a healthy democracy starts with
having healthy individuals," said Ardashes Kassakhian, executive
director of the Armenian National Committee's Western Region. "We see
how important health care issues are here in this election in this
country, and other countries have the same concerns.
"Children are our future. We have to teach them well and let them
lead the way."