In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF have warned against alarming decline in the number of children receiving life-saving vaccines around the world due to disruptions in delivery and uptake of immunisation services.
Latest data on vaccine coverage estimates from WHO and UNICEF show that improvements such as expansion of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to 106 countries and greater protection for children against more diseases, are in danger of lapsing.
The likelihood that children born in the present day will be fully vaccinated with all globally recommended vaccines by the time they reach the age of five, is less than 20 per cent. For example, preliminary data for the first four months of 2020 points to a substantial drop in the number of children completing three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3). This is the first time in 28 years that the world could see a reduction in DTP3 coverage — the marker for immunisation coverage within and across countries –as per a report issued by WHO.
In 2019, nearly 14 million children missed out on life-saving vaccines such as measles and DTP3. Most of these children live in Africa and are likely to lack access to other health services. Two-thirds of them are concentrated in 10 middle- and low-income countries: Angola, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Philippines.
Due to Covid-19, at least 30 measles vaccination campaigns were or are at risk of being cancelled, which could result in further outbreaks in 2020 and beyond. According to a new UNICEF, WHO, and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, pulse survey conducted in collaboration with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, three quarters of 82 countries that responded reported Covid-19 related disruptions in their immunisation programmes as of May 2020.
Reasons behind disrupted services vary. Even when services are offered, people are either unable to access them because of reluctance to leave home, transport interruptions, economic hardships, restrictions on movement, or fear of being exposed to people infected with Covid-19.
Many health workers are also unavailable due to restrictions on travel or redeployment to Covid response duties as well as lack of protective gear.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines