WHO urges countries to intensify immunization efforts
20 April 2012, New Delhi: Countries will observe the first World Immunization Week globally starting from 21 April 2012. However, in the South-East Asia Region, WHO has declared 2012 as the Year of Intensification of Routine Immunization. The SouthEast Asia Region has decided to adopt a more aggressive strategy to support countries in addressing the issue of low immunization coverage. WHO and its Member States in the Region will acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of all immunization partners and most importantly the hard work of health staff and volunteers involved in immunization for the last few decades.
India was removed from the WHO’s polio-endemic country list as of 25 February 2012, putting the Region on track to achieve the goal of polio eradication and certifying the Region polio-free by 2014. Between 2000 and 2010, an estimated 153 million children were immunized through measles campaigns across the Region. In 2011 alone, 11.5 million children in Indonesia and 40.7 million children in India were immunized against measles through supplementary immunization activities.With India launching massive campaigns between 2010 and 2012 targeting more than 129 million children and other countries sustaining progress, the Region is moving towards setting a measles elimination goal soon.
“Nearly 9.7 million children in the Region still do not get the most basic of vaccines like the third dose of DTP-containing vaccine,” said Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia. “Immunization is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions. Growing opportunities through new funding as well as research and development initiatives should not go in vain due to the lack of perceived benefit. We need to increase public awareness and ensure that the general public understands how Immunization Saves Lives,” he added.
The current estimated immunization coverage for DTP3-containing vaccines in South-East Asia remains relatively low at 73%. Some countries have achieved high national coverage (90-95%) while others are experiencing challenges in establishing universal coverage in different states, provinces and districts that pose a variety of barriers.
The WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia adopted a resolution in September 2011, endorsed by all 11 Member States, declaring 2012 as the Year of Intensification of Routine Immunization.
Bangladesh has targeted 33 low-performing districts and city corporations to increase their fully immunized children coverage to 80%; India has stratified plans prioritizing 237 districts with less than 50% coverage to reach full immunization; Indonesia has targeted 32 districts in 11 provinces with less than 80% DTP3 coverage by ensuring that over 5000 villages intensify routine immunization where services have not reached the underserved populations. Other countries like Bhutan and Thailand have already reached high national immunization coverage of more than 90% at national level and more than 80% at district level for DTP-containing vaccines. These countries will focus their intensification efforts on strategies to reach 95% and 90% coverage respectively.
In the last two years, pentavalent vaccine (DTP + hepatitis +Hib) has been introduced in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and in two states in India. As part of intensification efforts, DPR Korea, Maldives, Myanmar and Timor-Leste will introduce pentavalent vaccine in their routine immunization schedule. Other countries are currently assessing the introduction of other vaccines by gathering evidence-based data on disease burden, as well as through financial sustainability studies.
The WHO South-East Asia Region comprises the following 11 Member States: Bangladesh,
Bhutan, DPR Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
For more information please contact:
Ms Vismita Gupta-Smith, Public Information and Advocacy Officer, WHO South-East Asia Regional Office (SEARO), New Delhi, Tel: 91-11-23309401, mobile + 91 9871329861, e-mail: email@example.com All press releases, fact sheets and other WHO media material may be found at: www.searo.who.int