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More than 17,000 children still die each year from easily preventable causes. Many of these deaths could be prevented through the wider use of vaccines — proven, low-cost effective lifesavers. New vaccines, for example, can prevent many deaths from pneumonia and diarrhea, two of the deadliest killers of children under the age of five. An estimated 1.5 million lives could be saved each year if every child received the vaccinations he or she required.
UNICEF is committed to putting children first and widening access to vaccines. During the 1970s and 1980s, UNICEF helped quadruple global immunization rates to around 80 percent of the world's children — and progress continues to be made. Measles deaths, for example, have been cut more than 70 percent since 2000. Polio, has also declined dramatically, with cases falling into the hundreds each year from the hundreds of thousands in prior decades. The disease remains endemic in only three countries — Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan — down from more than 125 in 1988.
Still, numerous obstacles must be overcome to achieve the vaccination of every child, everywhere. Conflict, displacement and poverty keep some of the most vulnerable children from getting the lifesaving immunizations they require. Greater funding for global immunization programs, improved cold chains — required to keep vaccinations refrigerated from the manufacturer until they reach the child, better training of health workers, and priority to the nations where routine immunization coverage is lowest, are all essential.
UNICEF is determined to broaden support for global efforts to improve child vaccination rates from 80 percent to 100 percent; to immunize every child, everywhere; and to work to save more than a million children's lives every year. Please join UNICEF in this important campaign.
I join UNICEF in support of full immunization for the world's children.
Immunization has proven to be one of the most effective lifesaving interventions for children and has helped dramatically reduce child mortality. Expanding immunization, giving every child the vaccinations he or she requires, could save an estimated 1.5 million lives each year. I fully support UNICEF in its campaign to increase global immunization rates.