Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.

Join

Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Global health

Breaking the chain

Getting vaccination rates back on track must be prioritised at a global level to stop further outbreaks of preventable diseases.

Getting vaccination rates back on track must be prioritised on a global level to stop further outbreaks of preventable diseases. In the image, a broken chain of paper dolls

Source: Callie Jones

More needs to be done to step up global vaccination rates in light of news from the World Health Organization (WHO) that one in five children still go without routine vaccines for preventable diseases. Moreover, five out of six 2015 global vaccination targets are in threat of being missed, WHO reiterated ahead of World Immunization Week (24–30 April 2015).

The warning first came in a 2014 assessment from WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, which described progress towards Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) 2015 targets as “patchy and slow”. Sixty-five countries have still to reach the target of 90% immunisation against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Three countries remain polio endemic in spite of efforts to eradicate cases after 2014. Maternal and neonatal tetanus, planned to be eliminated by the end of 2015, remain a problem in 24 countries. And rubella and measles vaccination rates are also behind target.

In Ebola-affected countries, vaccination programmes were all but abandoned in the peak of the outbreak in 2014. An epidemiological study published in Science (13 March 2015) projected that after 6–18 months of disruptions to childhood vaccinations in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, those countries would see increases in the size of regional measles outbreaks leading to 2,000–16,000 additional deaths. Yet such disruption was unavoidable — many programmes were paused for good reason to avoid unnecessary contact with health services during the epidemic; indeed WHO guidance dated 18 March 2015 suggested that vaccinations be postponed in areas that continue to have active Ebola transmission to avoid mass gatherings.

By 30 March 2015, WHO began recommending intensification of routine vaccination activities and campaigns in the affected West African countries. This followed an assessment of the risk of Ebola virus transmission versus the growing threat of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks.

The final stages of the Ebola epidemic will be tough to see through — “there is a terrible, terrible and growing sense that this is done. This is not done,” WHO’s assistant director-general Bruce Aylward said of Ebola eradication efforts at a United Nations meeting in April 2015. Scaling up vaccination and getting health systems back on track will need to be major priorities for the global community.

One of the steps highlighted in the GVAP to boost immunisation is to strengthen health systems so that vaccines can continue to be given even in times of crisis. This can be viewed with the benefit of hindsight for the Ebola-affected countries of West Africa. Nonetheless, achieving this will not only help to deliver public health interventions like vaccination, but position countries to withstand any future disease outbreaks.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20068455

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • Further MCQs in Pharmacy Practice

    Further MCQs in Pharmacy Practice

    Further MCQs in Pharmacy Practice contains 600 practice-oriented pharmacy exam questions. Includes both open- and closed-book sections.

    £30.00Buy now
  • Sampson's Textbook of Radiopharmacy

    Sampson's Textbook of Radiopharmacy

    This well-established textbook provides specialised information on the use of radiopharmaceuticals in the detection and treatment of diseases.

    £81.00Buy now
  • Traditional Medicine

    Traditional Medicine

    Covers the major traditional medicine systems. Gives information on philosophy, practice, safety, evidence and examples.

    £43.00Buy now
  • FASTtrack: Pharmacology

    FASTtrack: Pharmacology

    FASTtrack: Pharmacology is a study guide providing an account of drug action, as well as dealing with molecular pharmacology at a more advanced level.

    £28.00Buy now
  • Disease Management

    Disease Management

    Disease Management covers the diseases commonly encountered in primary care by system, with common therapeutic issues. Includes case studies and self-assessment sections.

    £54.00Buy now

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Jobs you might like

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.