The United Nations launched, on Monday April 24, a vast global campaign to relaunch the vaccination of children in the world, which experienced a dangerous slowdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in a resurgence of contagious diseases such as measles. and poliomyelitis.
The World Health Organization (WHO), Unicef, the international organization Gavi (which works to ensure better access to vaccines for children in poor countries) and the Gates Foundation are part of this campaign to “great catch-up”.
“Millions of children and adolescents, especially in low-income countries, have missed out [la possibilité de bénéficier] of life-saving vaccinations, while epidemics of these deadly diseases have increased”underlined the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Catching up is a top priority. No child should die from a vaccine-preventable disease”he added.
Vaccination rates declined in more than a hundred countries at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, more than 25 million children missed at least one vaccination, including 18 million who completely missed routine routine vaccinations, according to WHO. “Outbreaks of preventable diseases, such as measles, diphtheria, poliomyelitis and yellow fever have become more frequent and more severe”underlines the WHO.
The campaign of “great catch-up” will focus on twenty countries where three-quarters of the children in the world who missed vaccines in 2021 live: Afghanistan, Angola, Brazil, Cameroon, Chad, North Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, India, Indonesia , Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, Madagascar, Mexico, Mozambique, Burma, Tanzania and Vietnam.
According to WHO vaccine manager Kate O’Brien, the “sudden decline” vaccinations during the Covid-19 pandemic succeeded “almost a decade of stagnant progress”. It is not only a question of correcting the disruptions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, but also of confronting “systemic challenges in immunization”she told the press, adding that the 5% decline in vaccinations during the pandemic has led to “an increase of at least 5% in infant mortality”. Mme O’Brien warned of outbreaks of measles, a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease. When the immunization rate drops, it leads to “explosive epidemics”she pointed out.
For the director general of Unicef Catherine Russell, the challenge goes beyond the prevention of contagious diseases. “Routine routine immunizations usually mark children’s first entry into their health care system, and children who miss their first vaccinations are more likely to be excluded from health care in the long term”, she explained. If we delay vaccinating these children, “the risk of more deadly epidemics increases”she warned.