The UN sounded the alarm on Thursday July 15 on a risk of “Disaster” if the dangerous delay in the vaccination of children against certain diseases. “In 2021, we have the potential for an absolute disaster to occur”, warned Dr Kate O’Brien, director of the immunization department at the World Health Organization in Geneva. The Covid-19 pandemic has in fact forced resources and personnel to be diverted to the fight against Covid, many healthcare services have had to close or reduce their hours. People were also reluctant to move for fear of contamination, when containment measures did not prohibit them.
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Unprotected children and too rapid lifting of health restrictions against Covid, which also partially protected against certain childhood diseases, are already having their effects, with for example measles outbreaks in Pakistan, said the WHO official. . These two factors combined are “The absolute catastrophe against which we are sounding the alarm now because we must act now to protect these children”, she hammered.
23 million children affected
In 2020, 23 million children fell through the cracks and did not receive all three doses of the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine or DTP3, which serves as a baseline measure, according to published figures. Thursday by WHO and Unicef. This is the highest number since 2009 and it affects 3.7 million more children than in 2019.
Even more serious in the eyes of the two agencies, 17 million children – most of whom live either in conflict zones, remote places or slums deprived of health infrastructure – have probably received no dose. last year. This numbers “Are a clear alarm signal, the Covid-19 pandemic and the disruptions it has caused have caused us to lose precious ground that we cannot afford to give up and the consequences will be paid in death and loss of quality of life of the most vulnerable ”, insisted the director of Unicef Henrietta Fore.
Southeast Asia has been badly affected by the disruption caused by the pandemic, and the DPT3 coverage rate fell from 91% to 85% in 2020 in India, which had the highest number of under-immunized children or not vaccinated at all last year: 3.5 million. Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines have also seen the number of unprotected children increase. The Americas region is showing a “ long-term worrying trend Even if the decline linked to the pandemic was modest (2 percentage points less than in 2019). The Eastern Mediterranean region, which had seen the most spectacular fall in terms of immunization, was able to catch up with part of the ground.