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Millions 'not getting vaccines'

26th October 2009

Researchers are producing record numbers of vaccines, but 24 million of the neediest children in the world are not receiving them, according to a new report.

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The report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), UN Children's Fund and the World Bank, put the gaps in coverage down to a failure of delivery systems.

It said that while 106 million children were vaccinated in 2008, many more in countries troubled by conflict or extreme poverty were left outside the preventive safety net.

Daisy Mafubelu, WHO assistant director-general of family and community health, called on governments and health agencies to do more to help children who are hardest to reach.

She said that one in five children still did not get the rotavirus immunisation scheduled for the first year of life.

A surge in vaccine research in recent years has yielded a total of 120 vaccines against killer diseases, with a further 80 vaccines currently in advanced stages of clinical trials.

The vaccine market has tripled in the past decade to more than US$17 billion worth of sales. New vaccines currently available include meningitis, rotavirus and human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Rising demand from UN procurement agencies has driven a "research renaissance' in the field, according to the report.

But Rakesh Nangia, director of operations at the World Bank Institute, said that the systems of delivery needed to be boosted, so as to reach the world's most vulnerable children.

He said if health systems functioned poorly, it was difficult to ensure equity in access to immunisation. Coverage could be highly variable as a result.

Unvaccinated children tend to be concentrated in areas which lack easy access to health services, whether because of conflict, or because they are part of highly mobile populations.

Other issues impeding delivery include infrastructure problems, especially around adequate storage and stock maintenance.

If global vaccine coverage is to be raised from the current 82% to 90% by 2015, governments will need to inject a further US$1 billion a year into global programmes.

Such a move could prevent an additional two million deaths a year.


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Article Information

Title: Millions 'not getting vaccines'
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 13015
Date Added: 26th Oct 2009

Sources

World Health Organisation
The Lancet

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