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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora