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Key messages: Immunisation

The big picture

  • When the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) was launched in 1974, less than 5% of the world’s children were immunised during their first year of life against six killer diseases — diphtheria, measles, pertussis, polio, tetanus and tuberculosis. In 2007, immunisation coverage for each of the six diseases reached over 80% and some 118 countries achieved 90% or more DTP3 coverage (UNICEF, 2011).
  • Each year, over 1.4 million children die from diseases that are preventable with readily available vaccines (Facts for Life 2008).
  • In 2008, nearly 24 million children did not get the routine immunisations scheduled for the first year of life (Facts for Life 2008).

In Rwanda

  • Rwanda has high coverage rates for immunisation with over 95% of all children under one fully immunised (DHS 2008).
  • Enrolment in the national health insurance plan has increased significantly, from 7 to 92% from 2002 to 2010 leading to more access to quality health services by women and children (HMIS 2010).
  • Rwanda was one of the first developing countries to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine to prevent pneumonia in 2009 (UNICEF 2009).

Key messages

  • Immunisation against childhood illnesses is an essential part of improving the health and well-being of children. As part of its overall commitment to strengthen primary health care systems, UNICEF prioritizes expanding and sustaining immunisation services to reach all children with all appropriate vaccines.
  • Immunisation is among the most successful, most equitable and most cost-effective public health interventions reaching four out of five children globally. UNICEF believes in building upon the success of immunisation, using it as a platform to deliver other preventive and curative health services, such as vitamin A supplements to prevent malnutrition, insecticide-treated nets for protection against malaria and de-worming medicine for intestinal worms.
  • UNICEF works with governments and partners to scale up routine immunisation services to make full immunisation a part of every child’s life. UNICEF is a co-founder of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), a partnership dedicated to strengthening immunisation systems and increasing access to new and under-used vaccines. Working through GAVI, UNICEF and other partners have expanded the access of millions of children in the world’s poorest nations to needed vaccines, including hepatitis A, B, Hib (which protects against some forms of meningitis and pneumonia) and yellow fever.
  • UNICEF is a global leader in vaccine supply, reaching 40% of the world’s children. Immunisation is a central part of our commitment to protecting the world’s most vulnerable children.



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