Vaccines Key To Reaching MDG Goal To Reduce Child Mortality, Polio Eradication
“The rise of new and more affordable vaccines in recent years augurs well for the future and provides us with an opportunity to prevent sickness and save lives on a scale that was previously unimaginable,” Siddharth Chatterjee, chief diplomat at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, writes in a CNN opinion piece. “We now have vaccines to prevent nearly 30 diseases,” he notes, adding, “The GAVI Alliance … has contributed to the immunization of more than 370 million children since 2000. The [WHO] estimates immunization programs prevent two million to three million deaths every year.” He continues, “WHO also estimates we have an opportunity to reach an additional 22 million infants who live in hard-to-reach or insecure communities across the developing world.”
“Reaching these populations is the key to achieving humanitarian milestones agreed to by the global community — chiefly, Millennium Development Goal 4, which calls for a significant reduction in child mortality by 2015,” Chatterjee writes. He discusses the role of vaccines in decreasing the number of polio cases by “more than 99 percent,” and notes, “At the end of April, leaders attending the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi signaled their confidence in a six-year plan to achieve a polio-free world by 2018.” He examines ongoing efforts to eliminate the disease and writes, “With sustained funding and a commitment to community-led solutions, polio eradication will join a short list of heady, historical achievements that have united the world in solidarity.” He continues, “As health and policy experts debate the merits of earmarking investments for global health, they must remember one thing: vaccines are the most powerful and cost-effective tools available to improve child health and advance human development” (6/4).