News / Health

Global Organizations Make Push for Vaccinations

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid