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

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
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.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs