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Plea to build on child vaccine successes

Thursday October 22nd, 2009

More than 100 million children worldwide are getting vaccinations - contributing to a steep decline in measles cases, international agencies reported last night.

Some 24 million children remain at risk because they do not get vaccines, according three leading global agencies, including the World Health Organisation.

Dr Margaret Chan speaks on child vaccinationThey called on donors to step up the providing of funds to get vaccination to the poorest nations.

The three agencies, WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank, gained backing from the foundation set up by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates for the project.

Some 120 vaccines are now available - with the H1N1 swine flu vaccine being the latest.

Some 30 further vaccines are in the final stages of development for diseases which do not yet have any vaccines.

And vaccines for HIV, TB, malaria and dengue are in the pipeline.

Improvements in vaccination have led to a 74 per cent drop in measles deaths since 2000, according to UNICEF.

WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said: "The influenza pandemic draws attention to the promise and dynamism of vaccine development today.

"Yet it reminds us once again of the obstacles to bringing the benefits of science to people in the poorest nations."

Dr Fred Were, National Chairman of the Kenya Paediatric Association, said: "Practising in my country, we still unfortunately see a lot of illness and death from vaccine-preventable diseases. If this can be reduced we will have more resources and time to focus on other health issues."

Tags: Child Health | Flu & Viruses | World Health

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