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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid