Friday, September 30, 2022

WHO: 25 million children did not receive routine vaccinations due to COVID

WHO: 25 million children did not receive routine vaccinations due to COVID

About 25 million children worldwide have missed routine immunizations against common diseases like diphtheria, largely because the coronavirus pandemic disrupted regular health services or led to misinformation about vaccines, according to the UN.

In a new report released Friday, the World Health Organization and UNICEF said their figures showed 25 million children were not vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis last year, an indicator of immunization coverage. children, continuing a downward trend that began in 2019.

“This is a red alert for children’s health,” said Catherine Russell, executive director of UNICEF.

“We are witnessing the largest sustained drop in childhood immunization in a generation,” he said, adding that the consequences would be measured in lives lost.

While vaccination coverage declined in all world regions, the data showed that the vast majority of children who failed to get vaccinated lived in developing countries, including Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and the Philippines.

Problem aggravated by malnutrition

Experts said this “historic setback” in vaccination coverage was especially concerning because it was occurring as rates of severe malnutrition were rising. Malnourished children often have weaker immune systems and infections such as measles can often prove fatal to them.

“The convergence of a hunger crisis with a widening immunization gap threatens to create the conditions for a child survival crisis,” the UN said.

Scientists said low vaccination coverage rates have resulted in preventable outbreaks of diseases such as measles and polio. In March 2020, the WHO and its partners called on countries to suspend their polio eradication efforts amid the accelerating COVID-19 pandemic. Since then there have been dozens of polio epidemics in more than 30 countries.

“This is particularly tragic as tremendous progress was made in the two decades before the COVID pandemic in improving childhood vaccination rates globally,” said Helen Bedford, a professor of child health at University College London, who did not was connected to the UN report. She called the news shocking but not surprising, noting that immunization services are often an “early victim” of major social or economic disasters.

Dr. David Elliman, a consultant pediatrician at Britain’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, said it was critical to reverse the trend of declining vaccination among children.

“The effects of what happens in one part of the world can ripple out and affect the entire globe,” he said in a statement, pointing to the rapid spread of COVID-19 and, more recently, monkeypox. “Whether we act on the basis of ethics or ‘enlightened self-interest,'” she said, children should be “at the top of our priority list.”

Nation World News Desk
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