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UN spotlights role of immunization in saving lives worldwide

UN spotlights role of immunization in saving lives worldwide

Child being given an oral vaccine
An annual global push by the United Nations to spotlight the role that immunization plays in saving lives, especially those of children, will wrap up on Sunday after a week of vaccination campaigns, training sessions, exhibitions and round-table discussions around the world.

Immunization Week 2011 was marked in nearly 180 countries and territories across five major regions this year, a record, according to the UN World Health Organization (WHO).

Vaccinations were carried out against numerous diseases, including diphtheria, hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, maternal and neonatal tetanus, polio, rubella, whooping cough and yellow fever.

Outreach teams have been visiting communities with limited access to regular health services such as those living in remote areas, urban fringes and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to administer vaccines.

The week of events was first celebrated in the Americas in 2003 and has since spread to the European and Eastern Mediterranean regions. This year, for the first time, the weeks were observed in Africa and the Western Pacific.

In a message to mark the week, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan stressed the need to stay vigilant against the potential spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.

The recent outbreaks of measles, pertussis and polio in different parts of the world have highlighted the work that remains to be done, she said.