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Global vaccination targets ‘off-track’ warns WHO

GENEVA, April 22, 2015

Global vaccination targets for the year is far off-track with one in five children still missing out on routine life-saving immunisations that could avert 1.5 million deaths each year from preventable diseases, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In the lead up to the World Immunisation Week from April 24 to 30, the WHO is calling for renewed efforts to get progress back on course.

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.

WHO is calling for an end to the unnecessary disability and death caused by failure to vaccinate.
Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO assistant director-general, Family, Women’s and Children’s Health, said: “World Immunisation Week creates a focused global platform to reinvigorate our collective efforts to ensure vaccination for every child, whoever they are and wherever they live.

“It is critical that the global community now makes a collective and cohesive effort to put progress towards our six targets back on track.”

In 2012, all 194 WHO Member States at the World Health Assembly endorsed the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), a commitment to ensure that no one misses out on vital immunisation.

However, a recent independent assessment report on GVAP progress rings an alarm bell, warning that vaccines are not being delivered equitably or reliably and that only one of the six key vaccination targets for 2015 is currently on track – the introduction of under-utilised vaccines.
Many countries worldwide have experienced large measles outbreaks in the past year, threatening efforts to achieve the GVAP target of eliminating measles in three WHO regions by this year-end.

The progress of the global collaborative drive for immunisation, which began in the mid-1070s with the establishment of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation in all countries, has stalled in recent year, although its early success demonstrated the potential of vaccines.

The vaccines have been increasingly extended from children to adolescents and adults, providing protection against diseases such as influenza, meningitis and cervical and liver cancers.
The GVAP recommends three key steps for closing the immunization gap. It includes integrating immunisation with other health services, such as post-natal care for mothers and babies; strengthening 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.

Dr Jean-Marie Okwo-Belé, director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO, said the organisation will work to increase its support to all countries that are lagging behind in meeting immunisation targets. In May this year, 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.

Although many countries are already vaccinating four out of five children with DTP3, a full one-third of countries are still struggling to reach the ‘fifth child’, meaning millions of children remain at risk of illness, disability or death because they are not getting the immunisations they need.

“There is no one centralised approach that can ensure vaccines are delivered and administered to each child. Vaccination plans on the ground need to be adapted not just to countries, but to districts and communities,” said Dr Okwo-Belé. 

“What is required is a truly concerted effort and much stronger accountability so that each one of the key players involved fulfills its mandate and helps close the immunisation gap.”

The critical operational needs to ensure wider vaccination and delivery on the ground include finding ways to simplify vaccination procedures in the field; improving vaccination delivery to reach every last child,  especially  those living  in remote and inaccessible areas; ensuring vaccine affordability and strengthening vaccine supply chains; training more health workers, skilled managers and providing supportive supervision; improving the quality of data collected by countries and using this to improve immunisation operations; overcoming challenges posed by conflict, natural disasters and other crises; increasing awareness and demand for immunisation by communities; and greater accountability linked to micro-planning of vaccination operations and clear lines of responsibility. - TradeArabia News Service

Tags: WHO | death | track | Vaccination | immunisation | off |

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