Funding gap threatens vaccination campaigns: Red Cross

15th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

A four-billion dollar funding gap threatens vaccination campaigns that could save the lives of more than a million children a year, a Red Cross report published this week said.

"There is untapped potential within vaccination and millions more lives could be saved," said a statement published Tuesday by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

"With the introduction of pneumococcal vaccine and rotavirus vaccine, 840,000 and 200,000 lives could be saved each year, respectively, in the

poorest countries," it added.

Just two diseases, pneumonia and diarrhoea, caused 36 percent of all under-five world deaths, the IFRC study, conducted with the GAVI Alliance, said.

"Most of these lives could be saved with cost-effective and relatively cheap immunization measures," the statement added.

According to the study, an expansion in routine vaccines such as diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus could save more than 4 million lives.

Standing in the way however was a funding gap of some 4 billion US dollars (3.1 billion euros) that still needed to be filled.

These new measures could help to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which set 2015 as the deadline and are top of the agenda at the next United Nations General Assembly starting on September 23 in New York.

"Immunization to date has been a triumph," Bekele Geleta, secretary general of the IFRC said. "But broadly speaking, the world has done the 'easy' 80 percent; the 'difficult' 20 percent remains."

The difficult 20 percent includes some of the world's most inaccessible and poorest communities, and those already hit by complex or neglected disasters, such as the long-term drought in the Horn of Africa.

© 2010 AFP

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