Inefficient health systems keep vaccines from 22 million kids

April 18, 2013 at 12:11 PM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, April 18 (UPI) -- Inefficient health and delivery systems threaten 22 million children worldwide in need of immunization, World Health Organization officials in Switzerland say.

Dr. Flavia Bustreo, assistant director-general at WHO in Geneva, said better supply and logistics systems are essential to reach the estimated millions of children in developing countries still not protected from preventable dangerous diseases with basic vaccines.

"We have seen some major advances in the development and delivery of vaccines in the past few years," Bustreo said in statement. "But many countries still face obstacles in getting life-saving vaccines to every child who needs them."

Many countries encounter serious challenges in vaccine supply and logistics, from inability to keep vaccines at the correct temperature, to record keeping which enables community health workers to ensure the right vaccines reach the children who need them, Bustreo said.

WHO, UNICEF, the GAVI Alliance, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners active in the Decade of Vaccines have drawn up new plans to strengthen immunization systems to:

-- Ensure more vaccines are discovered and developed.

-- Establish supply and logistics systems that support and sustain efficient and effective vaccine delivery such as "moving warehouses" to distribute vaccines to remote health centers.

-- Improve immunization information systems to track individual children.

-- Maintain a competent and motivated health workforce, via staff training, better management and supervision.

-- Explore the use of mobile technology to strengthen communication and data capture across the supply chain.

The findings were published in the special immunization issue of Vaccine.

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