UN: WHO says global vaccination targets 'far off track'

New York, US (PANA) - The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that progress towards
global vaccination targets for 2015 is "far off track", with one in five children still missing out on
routine life-saving immunizations that could avert 1.5 million deaths each year from preventable

The warning came as many countries worldwide have experienced large measles outbreaks in the past year, threatening efforts to achieve the global target of eliminating measles in three regions by the end of this year.

Dr. Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General, Family, Women's and Children’s Health,
in a statement ahead of the World Immunization Week (24-30 April), 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.

"World Immunization Week creates a focused global platform to reinvigorate our collective efforts to ensure vaccination for every child, whoever they are and wherever they live."

He also noted that nearly 22 million infants in 2013 missed out on the required three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis-containing vaccines (DTP3), many of them living in the world’s poorest countries, and called "for an end to the unnecessary disability and death caused by failure to vaccinate".

Dr. Bustreo recalled that all 194 WHO member states at the World Health Assembly endorsed in 2012 the Global Vaccine Action Plan, a commitment to ensure that no one misses out on vital immunization.

He said, however, that a new independent assessment report on progress rings an alarm bell.

On his part, Dr. Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, WHO Director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, said the organization would work to increase its support to all countries that are lagging behind in meeting immunization targets.

She said that next month, WHO would bring together high-level representatives of 34 countries with routine vaccination coverage of less than 80 per cent to discuss the challenges faced by countries and to explore solutions to overcome them.

"Although progress has stalled in recent years, this early success demonstrates the potential of vaccines, which are increasingly being extended from children to adolescents and adults, providing protection against diseases such as influenza, meningitis and cervical and liver cancers," she said.

According to WHO, a global collaborative drive for immunization begun in the mid-1970s achieved dramatic results, raising vaccination levels from as low as 5 per cent to more than 80 per cent in many countries by 2013, resulting in immunizations preventing between 2 and 3 million deaths annually.

It noted that the Global Vaccine Action Plan envisions a world where everyone lives life free from vaccine preventable diseases by 2020.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 23April2015

23 april 2015 06:51:28

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