Immunization saves lives around the world

Immunization saves lives around the world

mother and infant

World Immunization Week 2013 is an initiative by the World Health Organization (WHO) dedicated to raising public awareness of how immunization saves lives around the world.

Every year, millions of children could be spared an unnecessary death from measles, pneumonia, diarrhea, polio, diphtheria, tetanus and other preventable diseases if we could simply get them the vaccines they need. Children in developing countries lack access to vaccines — often because these are intrinsically linked to poverty which includes resources available to access healthcare in a timely and effectively manner.

The Expanded Programme on Immunization initiated by UNICEF in 1974 drastically reduced deaths against six major vaccine-preventable diseases – pertussis, childhood tuberculosis, tetanus, polio, measles and diphtheria. It went from less than five per cent of the world’s children being immunized during their first year of life the major six killers to 83 percent of the world’s children under one year of age have received these life-saving vaccinations.

Despite the huge gains of the initiative 20% of all children born every year (22.4 million) are still not immunized. While immunization prevents 2-3 million deaths every year among immunized children, more than 70% live in the 10 countries with the largest populations, and the weakest immunization structures in the world. Immunization campaigns in countries have nearly eradicated polio, 27 countries have eliminated maternal and neo natal tetanus, and Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) coverage rose from 20% to 83% by the end of 2011. Worldwide deaths from measles have decreased by 74% globally and by 85% between 2000 and 2010 in Africa. While these achievements should be celebrated we still have a long way to go.

According to the UN Foundation, immunization has saved the lives of more children than any other medical intervention in the last 50 years. So help spread the word during World Immunization Week!


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