Its good news finally-Global Estimates by WHO reveals that 9 in 10 infants received vaccinations in 2017. In all about 123 million infants, received at least one dose of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine in 2017 all over the world.It is a usual practice that WHO and UNICEF jointly produce national immunization coverage estimates for each of the 194 WHO member States on an annual basis. It can not be denied that immunization is a building block of strong primary health care and universal health coverage. Moreover, it offers every child the chance of a healthy life from the start and provides a point of contact for healthcare at the beginning of their life.
Since 2015, the percentage of children who received their full course of three dose diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) routine immunizations is sustained at 85% (116.2 million infants).
It is certainly satisfying that an additional 4.6 million infants have been vaccinated globally in 2017 compared to 2010.
Although global immunization coverage with DTP3 remains at 85% DTP3 coverage in the African region remains at 72% since 2010.
If universal immunization coverage is to be realized, more concerted efforts needed to reach universal immunization coverage. To reach targets an estimated 20 million additional children need to be vaccinated with DTP3; 45 million additional children need to be vaccinated with a second dose of measles vaccine and 76 million more children need to be vaccinated with 3 doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.
The WHO figures for immunization are as follows-
- All over the world, almost 85% of children have been vaccinated with the first dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services and 67% with a second dose.
- In all, 167 countries have included a second dose of measles vaccine as part of their routine vaccination schedule. But coverage levels remain well short of the WHO recommended measles immunization coverage of at least 95% to prevent outbreaks, avert preventable deaths and achieve regional elimination goals.
- In the world, 162 countries now use rubella vaccines and global coverage increased from 35% in 2010 to 52% in 2017, which represents an additional 25 million children vaccinated in 2017 compared to 2010. In the long run, this will reduce the occurrence of congenital rubella syndrome, that results in miscarriages, hearing impairment, congenital heart defects and blindness, among other life-long disabilities.
- Newly available vaccines such as meningitis, malaria and Ebola are being added as part of the life-saving vaccination package. In 2017, the HPV vaccine was introduced in 80 countries to protect against cervical cancer, other types of cancer, and genital warts in both men and women.
- IIin addition vaccines to prevent against major killers of children such as rotavirus, a disease that causes severe childhood diarrhoea, and pneumonia have been around for more than 10 years. The use of rotavirus and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) is not on target because in 2017, global coverage was only 28% for rotavirus and 44% for PCV.
WHO and UNICEF are making all-out efforts to collect data on immunization coverage at the subnational level. This will certainly help in removing disparity on the geographical basis. Various countries need to strengthen their health systems and keep adding new vaccines to their national immunization programmes. It is also pertinent to make efforts so that children have access to vaccination and fully complete their vaccination series with all recommended vaccines.
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Dr. Kamal Kant Kohli
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