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Strengthening Health Systems, Educating Communities Vital To Ensure Access To Childhood Vaccines

Project Syndicate: Where We Must Vaccinate
Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, founding director of Aga Khan University’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, co-director of SickKids Centre for Global Child Health, and president of the International Pediatric Association; and Naveen Thacker, president of the Asia Pacific Pediatric Association and coordinator of the International Pediatric Association

“…We have the tools to … ensure that no child dies unnecessarily from an illness that vaccination could have prevented. To succeed, however, several obstacles must be overcome. First, we must resolve systemic weaknesses in [South Asia’s] underdeveloped health systems, by improving training for health workers, ensuring proper storage and transportation of vaccines, and developing effective ways to deliver them. … Second, we must actively confront the growing anti-vaccine lobby, which threatens to undo the gains made in recent years. … Finally, we must continue to encourage countries in the region to increase vaccine coverage rates, in particular with newer vaccines proven to protect against pneumonia and diarrhea, the two leading infectious killers of children. … Vaccines are a proven tool for improving children’s health and development. Ensuring that children have access to them is an achievable public health goal behind which parents and pediatricians everywhere should unite” (5/4).