UNICEF procured 2.5 bn doses of vaccines in 2016



Vaccine admimistered on a child

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it procured 2.5 billion doses of vaccines for children in nearly 100 countries in 2016.

A statement signed by the UNICEF Chief of Communications in Abuja, Ms Doune Porter, said that the procurement made the organisation to be able to reach out to almost half of the world’s children under the age of five.

Porter said that the figures released in commemoration of the World Immunisation Week (WIW), made UNICEF the largest buyer of vaccines for children in the world.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that WIW runs between April 24 and 28 annually.

“Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the three remaining polio-endemic countries, each received more doses of vaccines than any other country.

“With almost 450 million doses of vaccines procured for children in Nigeria, 395 million in Pakistan and over 150 million in Afghanistan, UNICEF is the lead procurement agency for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative,’’ she said.

Porter said that access to immunisation had led to a dramatic decrease in the deaths of children under five from vaccine-preventable diseases, hence, bringing the world closer to eradicating polio.

She said that between 2000 and 2015, under five deaths due to measles declined by 85 per cent and those due to neonatal tetanus, by 83 per cent.

“A proportion of the 47 per cent reduction in pneumonia deaths and 57 per cent reduction in diarrhoea deaths in this time is also attributed to vaccines,’’ she said.

Porter, however, said that an estimated 19.4 million children around the world still miss out on full vaccinations every year.

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She noted that about two thirds of all unvaccinated children lived in conflict-affected countries.

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Porter said that weak health systems, poverty and social inequities also meant that one in five children under five was still not reached with life-saving vaccines.

She  quoted the Chief of Immunisation, UNICEF, Dr Robin Nandy, as saying,  “All children, no matter where they live or what their circumstances are, have the right to survive and thrive, safe from deadly diseases.

“Since 1990, immunisation has been a major reason for the substantial drop in child mortality, but despite this progress, 1.5 million children still die from vaccine-preventable diseases every year.

“In addition to children living in rural communities where access to services is limited, more and more children living in overcrowded cities and slum dwellings are also missing out on vital vaccinations.

“Overcrowding, poverty, poor hygiene and sanitation as well as inadequate nutrition and health care increase the risk of diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and measles in these communities.

Porter noted that by 2030, an estimated one in four people would live in urban poor communities, mainly in Africa and Asia.

She said that the focus and investment of immunisation services must be tailored to the specific needs of these communities and children.

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