News

Immunization Week Highlights Efforts to Save Lives Worldwide

Vidushi Sinha

It is estimated that a child dies of a vaccine-preventable disease every 20 seconds. To counter this grim trend, the World Health Organization and its public and private partners are raising awareness of the critical importance of vaccines, and intensifying global vaccination campaigns during World Immunization Week from April 21- 28.

Haiti, Nigeria, Ghana -- 180 countries in all -- stepped up their immunization drives against deadly childhood infections to mark World Immunization Week.

The GAVI Alliance -- a Geneva based public-private partnership aimed at improving health in poor countries -- rolled out new vaccination campaigns in many countries against killer childhood infections such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps and rubella.

Spokesman Jonathan Stern says the GAVI Alliance has helped to vaccinate 326 million children around the world since 2000, a campaign that has saved about five and a half million lives.

“Our goal for 2015 is to immunize an additional quarter billion people and this would save nearly another 4 million lives. And so for GAVI, the real challenge is fulfilling that promise -- that is, to immunize a quarter billion people,” Stern said.

Experts say the current immunization campaign provides a unique opportunity to highlight the powerful impact vaccines can have in reducing mortality and illness.

“The leading killers of children in the world now are diarrheal disease caused by rotavirus infection or respiratory diseases caused by pneumococcal pneumonia.  So for both those killer diseases, we have safe and affordable vaccine we need to greatly expand their use,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. He says vaccines have made it possible to eradicate  smallpox and other diseases, but their primary value is that they provide an extremely cost-effective way to prevent and control fatal or disabling diseases such as polio or measles.

“When we are talking about saving lives and reducing morbidity and mortality from infectious and neglected diseases our first goal is generally not eradication. That’s a nice target but one which is still decades away,” he said.

Researchers are hopeful an effective malaria vaccine will be ready soon, and in the next few years, a vaccine against tuberculosis. Hotez is confident these new vaccines -- along with new combination drugs and aggressive vector control strategies -- will help to reduce the terrible human costs of preventable and treatable diseases.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mike
April 27, 2012 7:45 AM
This is the kind of science we should be focusing on. Real results for real people. It is sad that regional/cultural ignorance prevents so many people from being treated. Of course, saving millions of lives a year begs the question "What do we do with these 'extra' people?" Education, modern liberal democracy, and growing economies are absolutely necessary for everyone to reach their potential. Otherwise, what's the point?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs