When the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) was launched in 1974, less than five per cent of the world's children were immunized during their first year of life against six killer diseases — polio, diphtheria, tuberculosis, pertussis (whooping cough), measles and tetanus.
|A nurse administers an immunization to a baby at a clinic in Ein Al Beidah, a remote village in northern West Bank.|
Today, 83 percent of the world's children under one year of age have received these life-saving vaccinations. Increasing numbers of countries, including low-income countries, are adding new and under-used vaccines, like Hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and yellow fever vaccine to their routine infant immunization schedules.
However, one-fifth of the world’s children – about 22.4 million infants – are not immunized against these killer diseases. More than 70 percent of these children live in ten countries. An estimated 1.5 million children died in 2011 from vaccine-preventable diseases. The deadlines for eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus and certification of global polio eradication by 2010 have not been met.
Sustainability is the key for the next phase of the drive towards full immunization. UNICEF is a leading partner in the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), a far-reaching public-private partnership dedicated to increasing children’s access to vaccines in poor countries. The Alliance works to strengthen and expand routine immunization services and support the introduction of new and under-used vaccines, including those that protect against hepatitis B and Hib disease. The ultimate objective: establish immunization programmes that will function smoothly year after year as part of solid primary health care systems.
UNICEF works with governments and other partners including the World Health Organization, the World Bank, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the vaccine industry, civil society groups, and research and technical health institutes to make full immunization a part of every child’s life. Priority is given to about 40 nations where routine immunization coverage is lowest, and to the districts within those countries where children are least protected. These priority nations range from Indonesia and Sudan to India and Afghanistan.
In these countries, UNICEF helps local health managers to improve the planning and supervision of immunization activities and ensure a regular supply of vaccines, supports training for health workers and works with local leaders and media to educate communities and promote immunization. Special efforts are made to continue routine immunization in regions with poor health infrastructure, inaccessibility or conflict.
Source: UNICEF/WHO, November 2011
Routine Immunization - Recommendations
WHO recommends that all children must receive: