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News note

Fourth annual Global Immunization Meeting opens in New York

NEW YORK, 17 February 2009 – Partners in the global fight against vaccine-preventable diseases gathered today in New York for the fourth annual Global Immunization Meeting. The three-day conference, co-hosted by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the GAVI Alliance will focus on progress in global immunization and what needs to be done.

“This meeting is an invaluable opportunity to take stock of where we are globally and what is needed to continue critical immunization efforts,” said Peter Salama, Chief of Health for UNICEF. “An additional 2 million lives could be saved every year by expanding existing immunization coverage and adding available new vaccines for diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhea, two of the leading causes of death for children under five years of age.”

The event will examine the progress in implementation of the Global Immunization Vision and Strategy (GIVS), which was developed jointly by UNICEF and WHO and aims to raise global immunization coverage for the major vaccine-preventable diseases to at least 90 per cent in every country by 2010. Speakers will also provide technical updates on programmatic issues, including reaching the unreached.

Immunization reaches over 80 per cent of children worldwide and is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions ever, eradicating smallpox, lowering the global incidence of polio by 99 per cent since 1988, and achieving dramatic reductions in illness and death from diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. In 2008, measles partners announced that mortality due to measles decreased by 74 per cent globally between 2000 and 2007.

Immunization targets as they relate to the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will also be addressed during the conference. Immunization already prevents about two million child deaths every year and is a key strategy in achieving MDG4, which calls for a two-thirds reduction globally in child mortality by 2015.

The meeting will also highlight the fact that although immunization is one of the most successful, widely implemented and promising child survival tools available, the gains that have been made are fragile. Governments and donors must accept that even with the current state of the global economy increased funding is needed to sustain and build upon achievements in order to reach MDG4 and the 2010 and 2015 GIVS goals.


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:

Christian Moen, UNICEF New York, +1-212-326-7516, cmoen@unicef.org
Brian Hansford, UNICEF New York, +1-212-326-7269, bhansford@unicef.org




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