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UNICEF Calls Coalition Of Powerful To Provide Vax

UNICEF Calls For 'Coalition Of Powerful' To Provide Worldwide Vaccine Access

With some 2 million children dying annually from vaccine-preventable diseases, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) chief Carol Bellamy today called on the world's leaders to form a "coalition of the powerful," to provide effective immunization for the children who presently have no access to it.

"Industry, governments and community leaders have a moral obligation and a vested interest in closing the gap between the reached and unreached," she said in a keynote address to the World Vaccine Congress in Lyons, France. "We've made progress before, but much more needs to be done to end stubborn inequities that cost millions of children's lives."

Ms Bellamy pointed to the polio eradication effort as an example of the global community's capacity to reach children in the most remote places as well as those who are socially marginalized. "The lesson here is: If we can come this close to eradicating polio, there is no excuse for not ridding the world of killers like measles, too."

The 70 per cent of children reached worldwide in 1990 with the "basic six" vaccines against whooping cough, measles, diphtheria, polio, tuberculosis and tetanus had not changed, she said.

The three-pronged approach of a Global Vision and Strategy for Immunization jointly developed by UNICEF and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) aims to reach more children with lower-cost, effective vaccines, to link routine immunization to other health interventions and to introduce advanced vaccines at affordable prices. Those could include inoculations against rotavirus, human papilloma virus, pneumococcal infection, dengue fever and even malaria, she said.

A global survey of child mortality UNICEF made public last week showed that 98 countries are lagging behind in their efforts to reach the globally agreed Millennium Development Goal of a two-thirds reduction in child mortality by 2015, compared to 1990, especially in countries plagued by conflict or HIV/AIDS where immunization rates are generally low.

"It's clear that we have to learn some new tricks to reach the goals the world has set for itself," Ms. Bellamy said. "The strongest possible partnership between the private and public sectors is a crucial first step, both in ensuring a steady, affordable supply of vaccines and in making sure it reaches the children who are hardest to reach. It's a double challenge."

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