The last week of April every year is designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners as the World Immunization Week (WIW). The aim is to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against diseases. Thanks to immunization which has saved millions of lives over the years, otherwise we would still be in the dark age of rampant mortality mostly blamed on superstitious puzzles. Now the whole world agrees that immunization is the most successful and cost effective health intervention.
This year, the World Immunization week comes up on 24-30 April 2018 with the theme, Protected Together, #VACCINESWORK. The goal is to influence greater action on immunization around the world, with a focus on the role everyone can play.
The Significance of Immunization
According to WHO, immunization prevents illness, disability and death from vaccine-preventable diseases including cervical cancer, diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, whooping cough, pneumonia, polio, rotavirus, diarrhea, rubella and tetanus. Obviously, millions of death have been prevented. However, there is still a wide gap and that is why WHO and health ministries across the world have been executing a Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) to facilitate more equitable access to vaccines by 2020.
Key Challenges to Immunization
A 2016 estimate by WHO revealed that 19.5 million infants worldwide were not reached with routine inoculation services such as DTP3 vaccine. Around 60% of these children live in 10 countries: Angola, Brazil, DR Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Africa.
More assiduous actions need to be taken at subnational levels to develop vaccination strategies and operational plans in addressing immunization gaps and ensuring everyone is reached with lifesaving vaccines. As it is today, progress towards achieving the targets of GVAP is bellow expectation. Global vaccination coverage is stalled at 86%, a drop from 90% recorded in the wake of 2016. Frighteningly, no significant change is being noticed.
What You Can Do Now
In view of the forgoing, as this year World Immunization Week ensues, everyone including the public, health workers donors and leaders must take massive actions. We must all ensure that we are Protected Together because #VACCINESWORK. As a parent, you must keep to the immunization schedule and ensure your child receives all the vaccines available. As a neighbor, you must ask questions and encourage that parent around you to do the needful. As a social influencer, you must use your platform to advance this message. As a leader, you must facilitate access to immunization, educate your people and persuade them to comply. As an individual, you can forward this message to the next person. And as a donor, please keep up the good work!
During the World Immunization Week 2018, the tag #vaccineswork will be trending as championed by WHO. Please like, follow and share the trend with others. "Our contributions to life is the proof of our living". If no effort is spared, together we can achieved 100% vaccine coverage everywhere in the world and be free from those diseases. For instance, China and India in spite of their massive population have been certified free of poliomyelitis.
Who would believe that in 1952, an outbreak of polio in the United States recorded 58,000 cases? In fact, in the prior decades, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s paralytic illness was believed to have been caused by polio. But today, no state is freer from vaccine-preventable diseases than the US. Like I mentioned earlier, the world has pretty much benefited from the efficacy of vaccines. For instance, polio had reduced globally from 350,000 cases in 1988 to 37 in 2016. By 2020, it shall be zero if you and I take action now!
Protected Together, #VACCINESWORK.
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