World Immunization Week and “The Immunization Gap”
By admin April 29, 2016

medicine vials and syringe

This week, April 24-30, is World Immunization Week. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the theme for this year to be “Closing the Immunization Gap – Immunization for All Throughout Life”, underlining the achievement made in immunization coverage to date, while ensuring global vaccination is met by 2020.

Although vaccines save over 2 million children annually from death, approximately 1.5 million children still die every year from preventable diseases. One in five babies worldwide – 18.7 million – do not receive a full set of vaccines. According to UNICEF, more than 60 percent of these children live in ten conflict-affected countries: Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Pakistan, the Philippines, Uganda, and South Africa. Of the countries currently in conflict, South Sudan, Somalia, and Syria have the highest rates of unvaccinated children at 61 percent, 58 percent, and 57 percent, respectively.

At the 2012 World Health Assembly (WHA), 194 states endorsed the global vaccine action plan (Gvap), but global immunization rates have only increased one percent over the past five years. The rate of infection puts global health security at risk, particularly in countries with less developed action plans and for diseases with high rates of infection, like measles, which can serve as a bellwether for response to other infectious disease.

There has been some progress. Child mortality in Africa halved between 1990 and 2012. Basic immunization rates are at the highest they have ever been at 86 percent. The WHO recently declared Nigeria polio-free, leaving only two countries in the world were endemic polio remains. Japan was declared measles free only one year ago.

Immunization efforts have indeed improved the quality of life for people around the world over the past couple decades, decreasing child mortality, cutting health costs, and allowing for more education and greater productivity at work. Ultimately, though, while there are still millions of children dying from preventable diseases, world leaders must recommit themselves to cutting the immunization gap.

For more information:

World Immunization Week 2016: Close the immunization gap

World Immunization Week 2016

Why are millions of children still dying from preventable diseases?

60% of unvaccinated children lived in conflict areas, says UNICEF

Angola’s yellow fever outbreak shows funding vaccines is critical

Africa: Why First-Ever Ministerial Conference on Immunisation is Critical

Measles – the canary in the coalmine



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