World miss out on vaccination targets – WHO | Independent Newspapers Limited
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World miss out on vaccination targets – WHO

Posted: Apr 23, 2015 at 2:37 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday alerted that, with one in five children still missing out on routine life-saving immunisations, the world may have missed out progress towards global vaccination targets for 2015.

The initial target, which is now far off-track, according to WHO, could have averted 1.5 million deaths each year from preventable diseases.

A child being immunized

A child being immunized

All hope is, however, not lost, as the world health body, in the lead-up to 2015 World Immunisation Week (24–30 April), is calling for renewed efforts to get progress back on course.

WHO Assistant Director-General, Family, Women’s and Children’s Health, Dr Flavia Bustreo, said: “It is critical that the global community now makes a collective and cohesive effort to put progress towards our six targets back on track.”

A global collaborative drive for immunisation, which began in the mid-1970s, with the establishment of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) in all countries, achieved dramatic results, raising vaccination levels from as low as 5 per cent to more than 80 per cent in many countries by 2013.

WHO estimates that today immunisations prevent between 2 – 3 million deaths annually and protect many more people from illness and disability.

In 2013 nearly 22 million infants missed out on the required three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis-containing vaccines (DTP3), many of them living in the world’s poorest countries.

Many countries worldwide have experienced large measles outbreaks in the past year, threatening efforts to achieve the Global Vaccine Alliance Project (GVAP) target of eliminating measles in three WHO Regions by end of 2015.

In closing the gap, the GVAP has recommended three key steps including the integration of immunisation with other health services, such as postnatal care for mothers and babies; strengthening of health systems so that vaccines continue to be given even in times of crisis; and ensuring that everyone can access vaccines and afford to pay for them.

Director of Immunisation, Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO, Dr Jean-Marie Okwo-Belé, said the Organisation will work to increase its support to all countries that are lagging behind in meeting immunization targets. In May, WHO will bring together high-level representatives of 34 countries with routine vaccination (three doses of DTP3) coverage of less than 80 per cent to discuss the challenges faced by countries and to explore solutions to overcome them.