News / Health

WHO: Immunizations Save 2-3 Million Lives Each Year

A mother holds her baby as he receives a pneumococcal vaccination during a national vaccination campaign in Managua, April 15, 2013.
A mother holds her baby as he receives a pneumococcal vaccination during a national vaccination campaign in Managua, April 15, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization estimates immunization saves the lives of two- to three million children every year.  In advance of World Immunization Week, which starts April 20, the U.N. agency is calling on nations to help immunize more children against preventable diseases so more lives can be saved. 

The World Health Organization estimates nearly 80 percent of infants worldwide are receiving the full course of vaccinations against killer diseases, such as diphtheria, measles and whooping cough.  But 20 percent, or 22 million children, are not protected from dangerous diseases with basic vaccines.

WHO Director of Immunization, Vaccination and Biologicals, Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, says the lack of universal coverage is the reason why global efforts to eradicate polio and to eliminate measles are behind schedule.  

In addition, he notes cost is putting some of the newer vaccines out of the reach of children in poor countries.

"The newer vaccines that are available against the two top killers of children-pneumonia and diarrhea-that these vaccines are not accessible to the majority of children in the world," said Okwo-Bele. "And, we know that child deaths will be reduced by an additional one to one-and-one- half million deaths with increased access to all vaccines.”  

The World Health Organization reports most of the 22 million unvaccinated children live in Africa and Southeast Asia.  It says 10 countries account for 80 percent of those who lack immunization against preventable diseases.  These countries include Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Dr. Okwo-Bele says inefficient health and delivery systems threaten the ability of poorer nations to receive good quality vaccines.  For example, he notes many countries have problems receiving a good supply of vaccines because they are unable to keep them at the correct temperature.  

He says many vaccines are being packaged and designed to meet the needs of developing countries. 

"In Benin last year, for the first time we used the vaccine, the new vaccine that has been produced for combating Meningitis A epidemics in Benin and West Africa," Okwo-Bele explained. "So, we used that vaccine outside the cold chain for up to four days in district and health facility levels.  And, this is a big step to help with vaccination campaigns especially in these areas where we do not have a ready cold chain.”  

The World Health Organization says vaccination is the best way to protect children against preventable diseases that could kill them.  It says health officials and governments must do a better job of communicating the benefits provided by vaccines.

It says it is important to shatter myths that claim vaccines do not work or have damaging and long-term side effects and can even be fatal.   

The World Health Organization rejects assertions that measles vaccines can cause Autism.  It says this is false.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid