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The Importance of Vaccines

D 3 juin 2015     H 05:55     A     C 0 messages

It is estimated that about three million children under five years of age die each year in the African region and a significant number of these deaths could be prevented by vaccines. Yet one in five children does not receive them. Lack of service delivery in remote areas or lack of information about the effectiveness of vaccines is a major reason many do not receive them.
Vaccine-preventable diseases include but are not limited to measles, polio, whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria, meningitis, yellow fever, hepatitis B, tuberculosis, pneumonia, diarrhoea and cervical cancers.

Among these diseases, measles remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. Measles is estimated to have caused 145 700 deaths globally in 2013, of which it is estimated that 38 000 were in the countries within the WHO African Region. It is a highly contagious, serious disease caused by a virus. In 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year. Measles-related deaths are caused by complications associated with the disease. Complications include severe diarrhoea and related dehydration, severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia, blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling). Measles can also trigger severe malnutrition or disseminated tuberculosis infections. Severe measles is more likely among poorly nourished young children, especially those with insufficient vitamin A, or whose immune systems have been weakened by HIV and AIDS or other diseases. In populations with high levels of malnutrition and a lack of adequate health care, up to 10 percent of measles cases result in death. Measles outbreaks can be particularly deadly in countries experiencing or recovering from natural disasters, conflicts or weaknesses in health systems. In countries where measles has been largely eliminated, cases imported from other countries remain an important source of infection. The highly contagious virus is spread by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions.

In 2013, the WHO/UNICEF coverage estimates indicate that 74 percent of children in the region have received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday, up from 53 percent in 2000. Since 2001, more than 750 million children have been vaccinated in the African Region against measles through supplemental mass vaccination campaigns.

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