Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria receive highest polio vaccines

Indo Asian News Service

New York/New Delhi, April 27 (IANS) Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria -- the only three polio endemic nations in the world -- received highest doses of vaccines in 2016, said a Unicef statement on Thursday.

"Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan each received more doses of vaccines than any other country," said the United Nations Children's Fund, which procured 2.5 billion doses of vaccines for children in nearly 100 nations.

"Almost 450 million doses (were) procured to children in Nigeria, 395 million in Pakistan and over 150 million in Afghanistan. Unicef is the lead procurement agency for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative," Unicef said, citing the figures released during World Immunization Week (April 24-30).

According to the Unicef, access to immunisation has led to a dramatic decrease in deaths of children under five years from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Between 2000 and 2015, globally deaths of under-fives due to measles declined by 85 per cent and those due to neonatal tetanus by 83 per cent.

Stating that in India the under-five mortality stands at 1.11 million deaths per year, the Unicef said pneumonia accounted for 13 per cent and diarrhoea contributed to about 10 per cent of the total under-five deaths.

According to the global agency involved in immunisation, an estimated 10 million children in India still miss out on full vaccinations every year.

"Weak health systems, poverty and social inequities also mean that large number of children under five are still not reached with life-saving vaccines," it said.

Unicef India Representative Louis-Georges Arsenault said the organisation was committed to ensuring closure of immunity gaps in every state in India.

According to the Unicef, in countries where 80 per cent of the world's under-five child deaths occur, over half of the poorest children are not fully vaccinated.

Globally, the poorest children are nearly twice as likely to die before the age of five as compared to the richest.

Robin Nandy, Chief of Immunisation at Unicef headquarters in New York, said: "Since 1990, immunization has been a major reason for the substantial drop in child mortality, but despite this progress, 1.5 million children still die from vaccine preventable diseases every year."

By 2030, about one in four persons will live in urban poor communities, mainly in Africa and Asia, meaning the focus and investment of immunization services must be tailored to the specific needs of these communities and children, the Unicef said.

--IANS

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