The first-ever World Immunization Week takes place from 21-28 April 2012. UNICEF offices around the world are engaging in immunization campaigns and raising awareness about the importance of vaccines to child survival. UNICEF is the world’s largest buyer of vaccines for the world’s poorest countries, and has been supplying vaccines to children for over 50 years.
By Chris Niles
NEW YORK, USA, 23 April 2012 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo is supporting the first-ever World Immunization Week, an international effort to highlight the importance of immunization.
|20 April 2012: UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo delivers a public service announcement encouraging vaccination efforts during World Immunization Week. Around the world, four out of five children are vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis - but more must be reached. Photo © UNICEF/NYHQ2006-0285/Bonn Watch in RealPlayer|
World Immunization Week runs from April 21 to 28, and takes place under the auspices of the World Health Organization. The event unites countries across the globe with vaccination campaigns and campaigns raising public awareness about the benefits of immunization.
Ms. Kidjo has recorded a UNICEF public service announcement to encourage families to vaccinate their children.
Immunization ends preventable deaths
“Vaccines save lives. And we are committed to ending preventable child deaths,” Ms. Kidjo said.
Immunization is one of the most effective public health measures, saving an estimated two to three million lives every year.
And immunization efforts have been far-reaching – an estimated four out of five children receive the DPT3 vaccine, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. And thanks to polio immunization efforts, over 8 million people are walking today who would otherwise be paralyzed, and the incidence of polio has declined by 99.8 per cent.
But these efforts must go even further.
|UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo at UNICEF House.|
Reaching the most marginalized
“Despite incredible strides in global immunization coverage, we have now reached a plateau,” Ms. Kidjo said in her announcement.
In 2008, an estimated 1.7 million children died before their fifth birthday from diseases that could have been prevented with vaccines. And in 2010, some 19.3 million infants were not fully immunized, leaving them vulnerable to illness.
And gaps in coverage mean that diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio are making a comeback.
UNICEF is committed to reaching children in the most marginalized communities, particularly those that are geographically remote or in regions affected by conflict.
“If we fail one child, we fail them all,” Ms. Kijo said.