Health services, especially vaccines, must ‘reach the unreached,’ stress UN agencies
Globally, nearly 13 million infants – almost one in ten – did not receive any vaccinations last year, putting them at serious risk of potentially fatal diseases, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) said today, urging greater efforts to extend the reach of health services.
According to WHO and UNICEF estimates, 6.6 million children received their first dose of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccines but did not complete the full, three dose DTP immunization regimen (DTP3).
Full completion of the vaccination series doses is critical to ensure the highest level of protection against those diseases.
Furthermore, according to the UN agencies, since 2010, the percentage of children who received their full course of routine immunizations has stalled at 86 per cent (116.5 million infants).
Of the estimated 10 million children, in 64 countries out of 194 WHO member States which have not achieved this target, 7.3 million live in fragile situations or in humanitarian emergencies, including countries affected by conflict. Four million of them also live in just three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan – where access to routine immunization services is critical to achieving and sustaining eradication of diseases such as polio. Similarly, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Ukraine recorded less than 50 per cent coverage for DTP3, last year.