News / Health

Global Organizations Make Push for Vaccinations

Pneumonia and diarrheal disease are the two leading killers of children in the developing world, killing more children each year than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.  This week, people around the world are taking action to put an end to deaths from these preventable and treatable diseases in children and adults.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) is partnering with 170 of its 193 member countries to vaccinate people around the world and to spread awareness about the importance of vaccinations.

Spokesman for the World Health Organization’s Americas division (Pan American Health Organization) Dan Epstein says hundreds of thousands of people have already been vaccinated since events kicked off on Saturday.


"A main obstacle is when people don’t know their kids should be vaccinated or don't know that, for example, adults should be revaccinated against influenza.  So awareness is one of the biggest obstacles we face," he said.

The Pan American Health Organization has a goal of vaccinating 41 million people in the Americas from April 23 to April 30.  Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean region also are participating.  And Africa and the Western Pacific region are both holding their first-ever immunization week.

Epstein says the Americas lead the world in vaccinations, having been the first to eliminate smallpox in 1971 and polio in 1991.  But he says there are still many hard-to-reach places, along borders and in rural areas, where the preventable diseases are still widespread.

Dr. Keith Van Zandt and his wife, Dede, personally understand the risk of not vaccinating young children.  They adopted their daughter, Annie, from Romania 16 years ago.  They did not even get Annie home to the United States before they discovered she had contracted Hepatitis B from her birth mother.  

Today, Dr. Van Zandt says his 18-year-old daughter still fights the virus that causes inflammation of the liver. "Personally, it still sickens me to know the disease my daughter has was completely preventable by a simple vaccine, had that been available to Annie and her mother," he said.

That is why the Van Zandts are speaking out as advocates of the nonpartisan, advocacy group, ONE, that has launched an awareness campaign this week aimed at saving the lives of 4 million children in five years through pneumonia and diarrhea vaccinations.

Their initiative is part of a global push ahead of a June pledging conference for world leaders to commit funding for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization’s effort to vaccinate 243 million children.

Part of their initiative includes getting a half-million people to sign a petition to U.S. President Barack Obama asking him to fund childhood vaccinations. ONE Communications Director Ginny Wolfe says so little money is needed that it could be spared even in tough economic times. "In fact, it is such a small percentage that it’s just a little percent of what is less than 1 percent of the budget that has financed programs to save millions of lives all over the world in the last decade," she said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is partnering with ONE to spread awareness about the "cost-effectiveness" of vaccinations. Dr. Robert Block, head of the academy, says more than 2 million children die from pneumonia and diarrhea each year, but he says vaccinations can stop this. "Well, I think the effectiveness is great. What we are going to try and do is provide vaccines at a reasonable cost to countries in the developing world so that we can create access for parents to get their children immunized against what would otherwise be deadly sometimes diseases," he said.

WHO estimates that vaccines have helped prevent more than 2.5 million deaths each year that would occur without vaccinations.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid