This month begins a massive scale-up of Pentavalent vaccine for India’s children. With the largest rate of child mortality in the world, this new, national immunization effort will help reduce the number of child deaths in India. The Pentavalent vaccine combines diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) with hepatitis B (hepB) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Haemophilus influenzae type b kills 72,000 Indian children each year. Currently there are 6.8 million unimmunized children in India.
With the help of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, India will roll out free Pentavalent shots in 12 states during its first phase. 8 states already have free Pentavalent immunizations. By the end of phase one 2/3 of all India’s children will have access to the Pentavalent shot, according to GAVI. Phase two will cover the remaining 16 states with the Pentavalent shot. Phase two begins in 2015.
“India’s decision to expand access to Pentavalent vaccines through the Universal Immunization Programme will have a major long-term positive health impact by averting the deaths associated with Hib pneumonia, meningitis and hepB liver cancer,” said Dr Seth Berkley CEO of Gavi.
India has already shown that massive immunization roll-outs are in its citizens’ best interest in order to have a healthier populace. India was recently declared polio free because of its willingness to scale-up its polio vaccination programs.
Did you know there are 22 million children who still do not have access to vaccines? This is according to GAVI Alliance’s recently released 2012 Progress Report. Despite the high number of children who are not being vaccinated GAVI met and achieved many global milestones that are highlighted in its 2012 timeline including attracting $38 million US in pledges for childhood immunizations in January and securing a 67% decrease in rotavirus costs in April.
Pneumonia and diarrhea account for nearly a quarter of all deaths of children under the age of five so lowering the cost of the vaccines is critical to saving more children’s lives. Through vaccines 500,000 children’s lives can be saved annually.
In 2012 you can see the graph of GAVI supported vaccine introductions. Click to enlarge. From the graph, the standout country in 2012 was Ghana which rolled out yellow fever, pnemococcal, rotavirus, measles 2nd dose, and meningitis A vaccines.
Eradication of vaccine-preventable diseases is the ultimate equity – no one has to suffer from the disease anymore. – Dr Alan Hinman, CSO representative, GAVI Board
In the report it is surprising to learn that across the 73 approved GAVI countries there is only 3% coverageof the rotavirus vaccine and 10% coverage of the pneumococcal vaccine, even though as aforementioned pneumonia and diarrhea are the leading causes of death for children under the age of 5. As of 2012 here is a graph showing the vaccine coverage.
GAVI is working on several goals including lowering the price of vaccines, strengthening health systems to make delivery easier, and increase the amount and availability of vaccines globally.
This Thursday our partner Shot@Life is the featured campaign for this week’s #DadsChat with Bruce Sallen.
Shot@Life champions will be special guests during the chat to talk about the events and activities they have done to teach their children how to give back and also spread the word about Shot@Life.
What is a dad chat? Bruce Sallan is the author of “A Dad’s Point-of-View: We ARE Half the Equation” and radio host of “The Bruce Sallan Show – A Dad’s Point-of-View.” He gave up a long-term showbiz career to become a stay-at-home-dad. He has dedicated his new career to becoming the Dad advocate.
Bruce Sallan carries on his mission not only through his book and radio show, but also with his column “A Dad’s Point-of-View”, syndicated in over 100 newspapers and websites worldwide, as well as with his dedication to his community on Facebook and Twitter. Every Thursday from 9pm -10pm ET, Bruce hosts a #DadChat. He recently started incorporating causes into some of the chats by auctioning off prizes and giving all of the money to the featured charity of the night. Recent Dad Chats have been incredibly successful – 10 million impressions, 1,000-2,000 tweets, and a reach of a million people!
Shot@Life Dad Chat:
· May 31, 2012, 9-10pm ET via #dadchat
· Paying it forward: Teaching your kids how to give back
· Co-hosted by Ted Rubin
· Prizes: Two Shot@Life iPods and a trip for 2 to Vegas
· On May 31, anyone who donates to Shot@Life will receive Shot@Life swag (water bottles, tshirts, jellybeans, etc.)
In listening to a talk last week in Atlanta given by Dr. Jacob Kumaresan, the Executive Director, WHO Office at the United Nations in New York, I learned a fascinating statistic about vaccine effectiveness.
In 1980 before the mass roll-out of vaccines there was one child death per second from deadly, yet preventable diseases like pneumonia, rotavirus, and measles. By 2000 the death rate was one death per minute. By 2010 the death rate was one death every four minutes. That shows progress, but the number of child deaths is still too high. By 2015 the United Nations has called for a reduction of child deaths by 2/3. Recent data by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund shows that MDG #4 (Child health) likely will not be reached, but that does not mean progress should slow.
One of the highest priorities in the global health community is to vaccinate children. In fact, it is one of the best global health buys to keep children alive.
“Immunizations have the power to save lives and transform lives,” said Kumaresan. “We can give the opportunity for a child to be healthy and grow without diseases.”
According to Kumaresan in 2010 109 million children were vaccinated with the DPT vaccine that fights against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. 19.3 million children did not receive the vaccines and 70% of those children live in 10 developing countries.
The ultimate goal of global health agencies is to increase the vaccination rate to 90% worldwide in order eradicate these preventable diseases. In the developing world, however, there are challenges intrinsic to immunizing children. Many people live in informal settlements (slums) and in war-torn areas making vaccinations in this areas difficult.
Since 2010 the GAVI Alliance has supported the immunization of 3.6 million children with the pneumococcal vaccine. Pneumonia is the leading cause of death for children under the age of five. GAVI’s mission is to save children’s lives in poor countries through immunization.
The Measles & Rubella Initiative
Five key partners make up the Measles Rubella Initiative including the American Red Cross, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Foundation and World Health Organization. These partners have set a strategic plan to reduce measles and rubella to zero by 2020 in at least five WHO regions. According to WHO the plan will be implemented through:
high vaccination coverage;
monitoring spread of disease using laboratory-backed surveillance;
outbreak preparedness and response and measles case management;
communication and community engagement; and
research and development.
The goal is within reach. In fact sub-Saharan Africa made saw a significant 85% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2010 due to vaccinations.
“It’s a moral imperative in today’s world,” said Kumeresan. “Every child should be reached. We need to make vaccines accessible and affordable to the people who need it.”
Starting on April 21 through April 28 the world will celebrate World Immunization Month. It’s a pivotal time for global health to celebrate milestones in the advancement of vaccine awareness and implementation.
On Thursday, April 26 Ghana will roll out two vaccines – pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines – in order to drastically reduce the number of childhood deaths in their country that can be prevented. With the help of the GAVI Alliance, UNICEF, the WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and various governments Ghana has trained health workers, built cooling facilities to house the vaccines and created a roll-out schedule and plan to begin immunizing its children again diarrhea and pneumonia.
In many developing nations children are born with a distinct disadvantage: the risk of dying from pneumonia or diarrhea, the two leading causes of death for children in the third world. If these children are fortunate enough to escape the grip of those two infectious diseases they may come down with malaria or measles, or be crippled by polio.
Young lives teeter between life and death every day in the poorest countries in the world. In fact, 1.7 million children will die this year because they have succumbed to one of the aforementioned diseases. With life-saving vaccines, however, the outcome for hundreds of thousands of poor children in developing nations can be changed. They will live.
The United Nation Foundation’s new program, Shot at Life*, works to combat the problem of children dying senselessly from diseases that can be thwarted through simple vaccines. With a generous donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners such as UNICEF and GAVI Alliance, Shot at Life encourages Americans to champion vaccines as an effective, verified, and cost-effective way to save the lives of children in developing countries.
Recently a team from Shot at Life including its Executive Director, Peg Willingham, as well as a team of congressional staffers traveled to Honduras to see the rate of childhood vaccinations and the outcomes from vaccinating 99 percent of its children.
“We selected Honduras because we wanted to show a success story to congressional staffers and the media,” said Willingham. “We wanted to show them here are the people you are helping.”
“Honduras was one of the earliest countries to receive the new vaccines for pneumonia and diarrhea,” said Willingham. Since then GAVI Alliance, the Pan American Health Organization, the Honduras government including health workers, teachers, and the police as well as community volunteers have worked in tandem to ensure the successful inoculation rate of its children. This levels the playing field for children who could die from preventable disease and drastically reduces child mortality.
Willingham also cited Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world, because of its willingness and desire to vaccinate its children to help severely reduce measles cases. Even though Mozambique only has one major highway that traverses its country and has recently emerged from a devastating civil war, the Mozambique government had the political will to vaccinate its children. “Over the course of five days 3.6 million children in Mozambique were vaccinated,” recalled Willingham who was in the southeastern African country during their massive vaccination campaign. Such a large undertaking took nine months to plan and its success relied on a top-down model of everyone working together from the government and its partners to the media to health workers, church groups and local volunteers. Due to the widespread and succinct nationwide messaging some mothers walked 15 miles in order to ensure their children were vaccinated.
Shot at Life is currently building a national network of supporters who believe every child deserves the right to life by receiving life-saving vaccines. Since its soft launch in September 2011 over 74,000 people have already joined in support. Shot at Life is now working to engage even more people through social media and mothers’ and parents’ groups around the country to spread the word about their global efforts to keep children alive.
On April 26 during National Immunization Week, Shot at Life will officially launch in Atlanta at the world-renowned Georgia Aquarium. In preparation for their launch Shot at Life has brought in a team of digital moms to their Washington, DC offices today for a summit to gear up for a nationwide roll-out of volunteers to spread the word about vaccine awareness.