New Delhi: Despite various health and awareness programmes, a staggering 22 million infants across the world miss out on the basic vaccines for diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps and tetanus. Out of these 22 million, nine million infants live in the Southeast Asian region, informed World Health Organisations's (WHO) Regional Director Poonam Khetrapal Singh.
"The situation is so bad that of the 40 million children born in the Southeast Asian region every year, only about 75 percent get all three doses of diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccines," Khetrapal said on the eve of 'World Immunization Week' observed from April 24 to 30.
Noting that children miss out the measles vaccination even in many urban places, she said: "In 2013, about 26 percent of the global measles deaths, almost 38,000, occurred in countries in the Southeast Asia region and 27,500 in India alone."
"These grim statistics underscore the need to intensify efforts to protect children with lifesaving vaccines. We must close these immunization gaps. We must emulate lessons learnt from major public health wins, especially the polio-eradication programme, to reach the unreached to ensure equity with routine immunization vaccines," he said.
Khetrapal emphasised on the collective efforts by government, partner agencies, health professionals, academia, civil society and the community itself to tackle the problem and discard it from the society.
"There is a need to increase and sustain vaccination coverage, we need to strengthen health systems and link vaccine delivery to other health interventions. Addressing the resource crunch, competing health priorities, poor management of health systems, inadequate monitoring and supervision and low awareness level among parents is critical to making vaccination available to all children," she said.