Red Cross Red Crescent joins global efforts in highlighting the unfinished business of immunization

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On the occasion of Immunization Week, which coincides with the last week of April each year, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies (IFRC) and various National Societies are carrying out different activities and events to raise awareness on the importance of vaccines.

According to Kate Elder, IFRC senior health officer, “Immunization Week is to remind us that there is still a lot to be done regarding immunization: we need more funding, greater access to those most vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases, and to broaden our partnerships around immunization, particularly by strengthening civil society.”

Immunization is estimated to save between two and three million lives each year, and vaccines are considered one of public health’s ‘best buys’. It is also a significant contributor to the Millennium Development Goals, particularly MDG 4 – a two-thirds reduction in child mortality by 2015 (compared to 1990).

Yet, too many children are still dying of vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, meningitis or yellow fever. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, we have witnessed measles outbreaks in places such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad, claiming the lives of over 300 children.

Just two diseases – pneumonia and diarrhoea – account for 36 per cent of all under-five deaths worldwide. Most of these lives could be saved with cost-effective and relatively cheap vaccines.

Last year, the IFRC published a report – Immunization: unfinished business – which set out ambitious goals for improving the availability of immunization and offered a range of advocacy tools that could be used to bring about the changes necessary over the coming years to rid the world of these preventable diseases.

Kate Elder, IFRC senior health officer, talks about the importance of immunization for the IFRC.

Report: Immunization: unfinished business

For further information, please contact

In Geneva: Sadia Kaenzig – IFRC senior adviser, health communications, +41 79 2173386,