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Editorial of the Day (14th May): Impact of Vaccination Worldwide

Context

  • A new study published in the Lancet highlighted the remarkable impact of vaccinations in saving the lives of an estimated 150 million children over the past 50 years.
  • Measles vaccination alone has been responsible for saving 60% of these lives, underscoring the importance of immunisation programs in reducing child mortality.

Key Findings of Lancet Study for Vaccination

  • Measles Vaccination: 94 million lives saved, the highest among all vaccines.
  • Tetanus Vaccination: 27.9 million lives saved.
  • Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Vaccination: 13.17 million lives saved.
  • Tuberculosis Vaccination: 10.87 million lives saved.

Editorial of the Day (14th May): Impact of Vaccination Worldwide_4.1

Reduction in Infant Mortality

  • Infant mortality rates have declined from about 10% in 1974 to 3% in 2024.
  • Vaccinations contribute to 40% of this decline.

Progress in Vaccination Coverage

Disease Data
Measles
  • Global increase from less than 20% in 2000 to 70% in 2021.
  • Western Pacific region: Most drastic increase, from 2% in 2000 to 91% in 2021.
  • Southeast Asia: Significant progress, from 15% in 2010 to 80% in 2021.
DTP3 (Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus)
  • Global coverage of over 80% in 2021.
  • Western Pacific region: Remarkable increase, from less than 10% in 1980 to 90% in 2021.

Global Efforts and Challenges

  • Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI): Established by the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO in 1974, led to a significant rise in vaccination rates.
  • Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance: Formed in 2000, helped address gaps in vaccination coverage, particularly in Africa and Asia.

Remaining Challenges

Despite progress, vaccine-preventable diseases still cause significant mortality:

  • Tuberculosis causes over a million deaths annually.
  • Measles, tetanus, whooping cough, meningitis, and hepatitis B collectively result in hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.

Call for Universal Vaccination

  • Increased Investment: Governments need to invest more in universal immunisation programs.
  • Coordination: Enhanced coordination is required to ensure vaccine availability and accessibility.
  • Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy: Efforts to address vaccine scepticism and misinformation are crucial for achieving universal coverage.

About Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI)

  • Launched in 1974, following the near-eradication of smallpox.
  • Aimed to leverage existing immunisation infrastructure and trained personnel to expand vaccine benefits.
  • Ensures universal access to all relevant vaccines for all populations across the life course.
  • Initially focused on protection against six childhood vaccine-preventable diseases: Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, and measles1.
  • Now includes vaccinations for older children, adolescents, and adults, expanding beyond the initial six diseases.
  • Currently recommends 13 vaccines, including newer ones like Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib), Hepatitis B (HepB), rubella, pneumococcal disease (PNC), rotavirus (Rota), human papillomavirus (HPV), and COVID-19 for adults.

In India

  • The Expanded Programme on Immunization was launched in 1978.
  • It was renamed as Universal Immunization Programme in 1985 when its reach was expanded beyond urban areas.
  • In 1992, it became part of the Child Survival and Safe Motherhood Programme.
  • In 1997 it was included in the ambit of the National Reproductive and Child Health Programme.
  • The Universal Immunization Programme is an integral part of the National Rural Health Mission (launched in 2005).

Success Story

Rising Immunisation Coverage

  • Global Progress: Since the 1970s, immunisation coverage among children has increased significantly. In the early 1970s, only about 5% of children in low- and middle-income countries received three doses of the DPT vaccine.
    • By 2022, this number had surged to 84% globally.
  • Success in India: In India, the percentage of children receiving the recommended vaccines has consistently increased over the years, reaching 76% during 2019-2021.

Impact on Public Health

  • Eradication and Elimination of Diseases: The use of vaccines has led to the eradication of smallpox and the elimination of polio from all but two countries. Many other vaccine-preventable diseases are now rare.
  • Lives and Costs Saved: Vaccination programs have saved millions of lives and prevented billions of hospital visits and hospitalizations. Economic analysis suggests that every dollar spent on vaccinations yields a return of seven to 11 times the investment.

Dominance in Public Health Programs

  • High Coverage: Immunisation programs have achieved higher coverage rates than almost any other health initiative in nearly all low- and middle-income countries, including India.
  • Public Sector Dominance: Despite the significant role of the private sector in overall health services in countries like India, where they provide nearly two-thirds of such services, the public sector delivers 85% to 90% of all vaccinations.

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