Accra, April 23, GNA – The World Immunization Week (WIW), slated for the last week of April, is an opportunity to remind families and communities on how effective vaccines can be, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated.
The 2014 WIW fixed for April 24-30, is on the general theme: Immunization For A Healthy Future, Know, Check, Protect, encourages people to take action to ensure that more children, and increasingly people in other age groups, are immunized against deadly and debilitating diseases.
A statement issued by Mr Tarik Jasarevic, WHO Communications Officer and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Wednesday observed that, currently, immunization averts 2-3 million deaths each year from diseases such as diphtheria, measles, pertussis, pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhoea, rubella and tetanus.
It said one important driver of this progress had been the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), which celebrates its 40th anniversary in May this year.
The EPI has been established in all countries, and at the global level, EPI brings together partners to work towards ensuring that everyone has the chance to be fully immunized.
Priority is given to some 40 nations where routine immunization coverage is lowest, and to the districts within those countries where children are least protected, the statement stated.
When EPI was established, just five per cent of the worlds children were receiving basic immunizations, but now this figure stands at more than 80 per cent.
The statement said, yet, 40 years on, the job is still not done, adding that more than 22 million of the worlds children (about one-fifth of infants) are still not being immunized with basic vaccines.
In line with this years slogan, the WHO and its partners around the globe are encouraging people to learn more about which vaccines are needed to prevent deadly illnesses, to check to see if their families’ immunizations are up- to-date, and to seek out vaccination services so that all family members are protected.
One way in which we are working with partners to help this happen is by encouraging use of new mobile and Internet technologies as a number of countries are now delivering information about vaccination directly to peoples mobile phones and social media accounts, it said.
Getting reliable information to those who need it is key to increasing access, and to helping countries implement the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) endorsed by the World Health Assembly in May 2012.
The Action Plan aims to prevent millions of deaths by 2020 through more equitable access to existing vaccines for people in all communities, the statement concluded.
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