Nations must ensure vaccines reach 90% population: WHO

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New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) As the World Immunisation Week begins on April 24, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday said all member countries must ensure covering 90 per cent of the population each time and listed ways to achieve the target.

“Region-wide, each member country should ensure all vaccines reach at least 90 per cent of the population at all times,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, a region covering 11 countries including India and North Korea.

Doing so will save countless lives, achieve herd immunity against vaccine-preventable diseases and ensure newly introduced vaccines have optimal impact, she said, adding it was imperative that every child, adolescent and pregnant woman receives the vaccines.

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“There are several ways to achieve this target. First, each member country should make immunization a national priority and secure sustained, high-level political commitment to strengthening national immunization programmes,” said Khetrapal Singh.

Among the other ways, she suggested individuals and communities should appreciate the value of vaccines and see it as both their right and responsibility and sustainable financing models should be developed to support national immunization programmes.

She added that member countries should increase their research capacity, with particular focus on increasing coverage and equity and evaluating the effectiveness of different delivery, supply and communication strategies.

On achievements, she said: “Region-wide progress has been substantial. At present, seven member countries’ routine immunization programmes have achieved more than 90 per cent coverage with three doses of the basic diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine.”

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Alongside routine immunization strengthening, supplementary immunization activities play an important role, she said.

Over the past 14 months, 113 million children received the measles and rubella vaccine as part of mass campaigns in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia. These vaccines will have life-changing impact for each one of those children.

–IANS

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