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Facts on Children


Since the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) was launched in 1974, immunization coverage of infants for the six major vaccine-preventable diseases – diphtheria, measles, pertussis, polio, tetanus and tuberculosis – has risen from less than five per cent to almost 80 per cent in 2004.

In 2004, an estimated 27 million infants did not receive three doses of DPT3 – one in every five live births.  An estimated 1.4 million children under five died from the six major vaccine-preventable diseases, with a further 1.1 million deaths from pneumonia and rotavirus (these vaccines are under development and hopefully will soon be available).

It is estimated that the vaccinations carried out in 2003 alone will prevent more than two million deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases and an additional 600,000 deaths related to hepatitis B that would otherwise have occurred in adulthood among the children immunized in that year.

Despite these achievements, in 2003 an estimated 27 million children below the age of one and 40 million pregnant women remained in need of immunization.

UNICEF’s Role in Immunization – Frequently Used Figures
UNICEF is a world leader in vaccine supply and immunization. UNICEF is the leading agency for vaccine procurement. In 2005 UNICEF procured vaccines for 40 per cent of the children in the developing world, the equivalent of over three billion doses, worth $430 million.

Financing –Frequently Used Figures
10 million additional lives could be saved through child and maternal immunization between 2006-2015 at an average annual cost of US$1 billion.  The estimated US$2.5 billion current annual spending on immunization in the poorest countries would need to increase to US$3.5 billion by 2010 and US$4 billion by 2015 to reach this goal. 

Spending on vaccines in the 72 poorest countries supported by GAVI doubled from US$2.50 per child in 2000 to more than US$ 5.00 per child in 2005. 

Other Antigens
The global coverage of infants receiving DPT3 – the benchmark indicator of annual routine immunization coverage – was 78 per cent in 2004, compared with 75 per cent in 1990.
Around seventeen per cent of children in the developing world is not immunized against TB.
Around one infant in every four in the developing world is not immunized against measles.
• Only 55 per cent of the world’s infants are fully immunized against hepatitis B. In the developing world, 46 per cent of infants are not immunized against hepatitis B.
• Only 69 per cent of newborns in the developing world are protected against tetanus.

Updated: April 2007