Apr 25 2012
“Every one of them could have been saved by a vaccine”
These were the words of Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF reported in BBC online yesterday. He was talking about the 382 deaths worldwide from measles every day after an analysis published in the Lancet showed global efforts to cut the number of deaths from measles had fallen short of World Health Organization (WHO) targets.
Last Saturday saw the beginning of World Immunisation Week during which WHO is uniting countries across the globe for a week of vaccination campaigns, public education and information sharing. Fifty-three European countries are joining this year’s European Immunization Week and this is the first year that all the member states of the European Region are participating since the programme started in 2005.
I certainly hope that this will help raise awareness of the need for continued and increased support for vaccinations and immunisation in the EU development aid budget.
I am presently Chair of the European Parliament Working Group on Innovation, Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases. This Group works to ensure that the EU establishes pro-active and coherent policies for tackling poverty-related diseases and to promote access to affordable medicines. During April’s Strasbourg Plenary session the Group joined key representatives from Global Health Advocates, the European Commission and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation and Civil Society in a breakfast debate discussing “The impact of immunisation programmes in the EU development aid landscape”.
Thousands of men, women and children with treatable diseases die every week in developing countries because the medicine they need is simply too expensive or does not exist. Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions and prevents debilitating illness, disability and death from vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, measles, mumps, pneumococcal disease, polio, rotavirus diarrhoea, tetanus and yellow fever. The goal is to reach and maintain high levels of child immunization, particularly in vulnerable groups, at the appropriate ages and recommended doses.