It’s World Immunization Week (April 24-30), an annual reminder that thanks to vaccines, many of us have grown up without seeing a loved one die or suffering lifelong disability from diseases. vaccine-preventable.
But not everyone is so lucky. Two years ago, in East Asia and the Pacific, 2.4 million babies did not receive the three recommended doses of DTP vaccines, exposing them to diphtheria, whooping cough or tetanus.
More than eight out of 100 children have not received the routine initial dose of measles in their first year of life, putting them at risk of dying or living with disability.
There are many reasons why children do not receive recommended vaccines, and these have been exacerbated during the Covid-19 crisis. As countries responded to the pandemic, essential health services were disrupted, including immunization programs. Children missed vital life-saving vaccines. We are now playing catch-up.
On a positive note, health systems have galvanized to immunize entire populations with the Covid-19 vaccine. Countries have strengthened their systems – ideally in the long term, but mostly in the short term. Now is the time to build on this momentum and protect all children in the Asia-Pacific region from preventable illness and death.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) can scale up routine immunization and reach all under-immunized or previously unimmunized children – zero dose children.
We do not work in isolation and have strong relationships with governments and key partners, such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization, the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Centers for Disease United States Control and Prevention (CDC) among others.
Civil society and faith-based organizations also play an important role in advocacy and community engagement, which is important for reaching more people. None of us can do it alone.
Investing in immunization, vaccines and reaching every child pays off. It helps save lives, prevent the spread of disease, build healthier societies and promote inclusive socio-economic development, which should be the goal of any business that aims to make a difference.
Our partnership with Pampers has eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus in 26 countries, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Timor-Leste and the Philippines in East Asia and the Pacific; nearly one million newborn lives have been saved and 300 million vaccines have been given to protect 100 million women and their babies.
UNICEF, along with our sister organizations, has been at the center of supporting countries since the Expanded Program on Immunization was launched in 1974. We purchase 2 billion routine vaccines each year on behalf of countries and support the strengthening of country systems and community engagement in vaccine distribution. to reach the last child.
Through the COVAX facility, UNICEF is leveraging its unique experience as the world’s largest vaccine buyer for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccine doses, as well as freight, logistics and storage.
All children should have the chance to have a fulfilling life and to survive past their fifth birthday. We are clear, vaccination saves lives – up to 3 million each year. Vaccines are safe and effective. They offer us the best and most cost-effective protection against infectious diseases and protect our societies against various epidemics.
Now is the time to leverage systems and innovations, political commitment and unprecedented public interest in vaccines for routine immunization, for children, adolescents, women and people elderly.
Companies can help make a difference for every child by providing strategic financial support through grants, but also with expertise and innovative approaches to rethinking supply chains, as well as advocating at the highest level to influence greater investments in child-friendly health systems.
By working together, we can reimagine a fairer world, where all children realize their right to good health. At UNICEF, we thank those who have already supported us on this journey.