Preventable Disease and the Developing World: The Road Ahead for 2015
With ever new year comes optimism, resolutions, and a renewed sense of purpose, looking at the twelve months ahead as an opportunity to improve, and make a difference. For MedAwareness, this means continuing the crusade to end the still present, worldwide threat of preventable disease, and give every child the right to life.
According to UNICEF “more than 30 million children are unimmunized either because vaccines are unavailable, because health services are poorly provided or inaccessible, or because families are uninformed or misinformed about when and why to bring their children for immunization.”
Due to these circumstances, 1.5 million unvaccinated children die before the age of 5 every year from diseases that vaccines we increasingly take for granted, could have prevented. The following are just some of those threats:
Though it made headlines last year for its resurgence in the U.S., measles has remained a devastating disease for much of the developing world, responsible for the deaths of an estimated 122,000 children in 2012. Global coverage for the second dose of the vaccine (recommended for 4-6 year olds) is at just 53 percent.
Pneumoccocal disease is one of the main causes of severe pneumonia and bacterial meningitis. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2008 the disease led to the deaths of 476,000 children. While this number is a major decrease from the previous estimates of one million annual deaths, global vaccination coverage as of 2013 is believed to be just 25 percent.
Diptheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis
Coverage against these diseases has increased from 74 to 84 percent since 2000, according to WHO. “However, an estimated 21.8 million infants worldwide are still not being reached by routine immunization services. Close to 70% of these children live in ten countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Viet Nam and South Africa.” The most recent data estimates over 256,000 deaths per year are caused by pertussis or tetanus.
Responsible for just 20-60 deaths per year in the United States, rotavirus leads to an estimated 500,000 deaths of children worldwide – annually. Though a relatively new vaccine, immunization against rotavirus, a leading cause of severe diarrhea and dehydration in young children, has a global coverage of just 14 percent.
The simple, bittersweet truth is that we have the ability to save these millions of young lives. Much progress has been made and tens of millions of children have been allowed to live due to the unceasing determination of the global effort to immunize every child on the planet. But as these numbers illustrate, millions are still suffering, still living in a world where diseases many of us have never even heard of maintain a daily threat.
2-3 million saved. 1.5 million still dying.
Great things have been accomplished, but the indication is clear – every life that is born is a life that deserves to be saved. MedAwareness is committed to this fight, and with the continuing dedication of a global effort, in which each and every person has a part they can play, we can win.