April 29, 2015 – We all know the power of immunization: fully immunized children are healthier, they have a better chance of completing their education, getting a good job and contributing to their families, communities and countries when they grow up. Immunization also contributes to maternal health, because mothers who are fully immunized are healthier and stronger, and to improved nutrition, because children who do not suffer from diarrhea are better able to absorb the vitamins and minerals they need to grow.
The benefits of immunization are indisputable. The World Health Organization estimates that immunization saves three million lives every year. Thanks in large part to the scale up of vaccinations, the number of children under five who die every year dropped from more than 12 million in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2013. And we have seen the proof of the success of immunization campaigns in countries such as Canada, where common infectious diseases that were once a major cause of illness and death, particularly among children, have been significantly reduced through immunization.
Twenty-two million children around the world are not fully immunized, which is why Canada supports global immunization efforts as part of our top development priority: improving the health of mothers, newborns and children around the world. Canada focuses on proven, low-cost and life-saving health care interventions that target the most effective ways to end the preventable deaths of women and children, particularly in hard-to-reach areas. Reducing disease through immunization is one of them. Canada’s Forward Strategy Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach also highlights the use of vaccines and medicines to reduce the burden of leading diseases as one of three main areas of focus for our global efforts.
We have achieved remarkable results with our global partners. Since 2000, over half a billion people have received life-saving vaccinations through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Since 1988, the global incidence of polio cases has decreased by over 99 percent, largely through the efforts of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), to which Canada was a founding donor. Canada is a leading donor to both Gavi and the GPEI and because of our global efforts millions more children are alive to celebrate their fifth birthday.
But we must do more to close the immunization gap for the one in five children who still routinely misses out on full immunization.
That is why Canada
- supports Gavi’s 2016—2020 strategy, which aims to immunize 300 million more children by 2020. Canada is also providing assistance to help Gavi strengthen immunization efforts in Francophonie countries in West and Central Africa, where immunization rates are among the lowest in the world.
- supports the GPEI, which has set a global target of eradicating polio by 2018. To achieve this goal, Canada is supporting efforts to strengthen surveillance aimed at detecting and interrupting the movement of the polio virus, improve routine immunization to help make sure that every last child is reached, and strengthen health systems.
- works with other donors and with the Government of Nigeria to fight polio. Together, we have made considerable progress: there were 87 percent fewer cases of polio in 2014 than there were in 2013.
- advances Canadian leadership in polio through the Pennies and More for Polio initiative, where Canada partnered with Rotary Canada to support global polio eradication efforts by matching the generous contributions of Canadian Rotarians.
- supports the Eliminate Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus initiative, which will match the contributions of UNICEF Canada and the Kiwanis Foundation of Canada up to $2.5 million over two years. This partnership will provide approximately 3.4 million women of reproductive age with three doses of tetanus toxoid vaccine to prevent deadly tetanus infection in women and their future children.
During World Immunization Week, we can take pride in the role Canada has played in global efforts to ensure that every child, everywhere, is fully immunized.
Minister of International Development and La Francophonie
Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
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