Unicef calls for concerted efforts to address routine immunisation

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Last Updated on April 22, 2023 by

Addis Ababa, April 22 (IANS) Some 12 million children in Eastern and Southern Africa missed out entirely or partially on routine immunisation from 2019 to 2021, the United Nations Children’s Fund, or Unicef, has disclosed.

Unicef, in its report entitled “State of the World’s Children 2023: For Every Child, Vaccination – Regional Brief: Eastern and Southern Africa” issued late Thursday, said immunisation is “one of humanity’s most remarkable success stories. It has saved countless lives”.

Figures from Unicef show that globally, an estimated 67 million children missed out entirely or partially on routine immunisation from 2019 to 2021. In Eastern and Southern Africa, this figure is 12 million children, Xinhua news agency reported.

“As these children pass the age when vaccines are routinely given, it will require a dedicated effort to ensure that they catch up with their vaccinations,” Unicef said.

Noting that immunisation allows children everywhere to live lives free of many forms of disability and illness, Unicef said immunisation has led to the eradication of smallpox, a disfiguring and often fatal disease that in the 20th century alone claimed an estimated 300 million lives.

“There has been remarkable progress, too, towards eradicating polio. The power of immunisation was demonstrated again in the Covid-19 pandemic,” the report said.

It said the backsliding in immunisation highlighted that the story of zero-dose and under-vaccinated children is overwhelmingly a story of inequities.

“The children who are not vaccinated are also often the children of mothers who have not been able to go to school and who are given little say in family and spending decisions,” Unicef said.

It said immunisation is key to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3, which aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” It is also linked to 13 of the other SDGs.

“In that sense, immunization is at the heart of our collective commitment to achieve a better and more sustainable future for us all,” Unicef said.

–IANS

int/sha

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