News / Health

    Vaccinations Save Millions of Lives Every Year

    FILE - A woman gets a vaccination from a nurse in Mexico City, Jan. 27, 2014.
    FILE - A woman gets a vaccination from a nurse in Mexico City, Jan. 27, 2014.
    Lisa Schlein
    The World Health Organization says effective vaccines against killer diseases are averting between two to three million deaths every year.The agency is kicking off its yearly World Immunization Week campaign by urging children and adults to get immunized against deadly and debilitating diseases.

    When the WHO began its Expanded Program on Immunization in 1974, only five percent of the world’s children were being immunized against killer diseases, such as diphtheria, measles, and pertussis.  Forty years later, more than 80 percent are receiving life-saving vaccinations.  

    In addition, WHO noted an increasing number of people in all age groups are being immunized against preventable diseases.  WHO Director of Immunization, Vaccines, and Biologicals Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele said the impact of vaccines is comparable to that of providing safe water to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

    “But importantly, we can do much better.  We can save an additional 1.2 million deaths every year if some of the newest vaccines, for instance against meningitis, pneumonia and diarrhea are used in the countries where these inevitable deaths still occur.   We could also prevent 250,000 deaths due to cervical cancer in the near future if the vaccines against human papillomavirus is extended to all girls today," explained Okwo-Bele.

    Dr. Okwo-Bele said polio is on the verge of eradication.  He said measles in Africa has gone down dramatically and the disease is being eliminated in the Americas and in the Pacific region, including China.  He said the meningitis vaccine has been an outstanding success in saving lives in Africa.

    According to the doctor, Angola and Congo Brazzaville are launching the introduction of roto-virus vaccines into their national health systems to coincide with World Immunization Week.

    While these and other successes are gratifying, the World Health Organization said work must continue to reach the world’s children who are not being immunized with basic vaccines.  WHO Immunization, Vaccines, and Biologicals Technical Officer  Tracey Goodman told VOA there is a danger of people becoming complacent.  

    “The unfortunate thing about complacency is that the number of susceptibles who resist or reject vaccination will accumulate and the disease will come back as you are seeing in the United States, measles and pertussis-whooping cough, which is a terrible disease,” she said. 

    Goodman said vaccine-preventable diseases come back if a sufficient number of people in a community are not immunized.  She called this an avoidable tragedy.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora