Countries have pledged an unprecedented $4.3 billion to help vaccinate children against preventable diseases like pneumonia. This funding milestone will save more than four million lives in the next four years. It is estimated that three times as many children aged under five die from pneumonia and diarrhoea than from malaria and HIV/Aids combined, despite new vaccines being available to help prevent such deaths. However, many developing countries cannot afford them. Drugs company GlaxoSmithKline last week agreed to sell a vaccine for diarrhoeal disease at cost price to poorer nations, and some other firms have since made similar moves
The UK promised $1.3bn (£814m), and Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates said he would give $1bn to the campaign. The extra £814m comes on top of the UK’s existing commitment of £680m between 2011 and 2015.
Each year approximately 25 million infants do not receive the necessary immunizations, and at least 2.4 million children die from vaccine-preventable diseases—approximately 14 percent of deaths in children under 5. Millions more survive, but are left severely impaired. The long-term effects of these childhood illnesses limit the ability of those who survive to become educated, to work, or to care for themselves or others.
Each year, more than 100 million children are vaccinated against measles, polio, and other diseases.
WHO/UNICEF estimate that $11 billion to $15 billion (U.S.) in additional funding will be needed to reduce mortality due to vaccine-preventable diseases by two-thirds by 2015.
Financial costs were estimated by country and year for reaching 90% coverage with all existing vaccines; introducing a discrete set of new vaccines (rotavirus, conjugate pneumococcal, conjugate meningococcal A and Japanese encephalitis); and conducting immunization campaigns to protect at-risk populations against polio, tetanus, measles, yellow fever and meningococcal meningitis.
In all 117 low- and lower-middle-income countries, total costs for 2006–2015 are estimated at US$ 76 (range: US$ 23–110) billion, with US$ 49 billion for maintaining current systems and $27 billion for scaling-up. In the 72 poorest countries, US$ 11–15 billion (30%–40%) of the overall resource needs are unmet if the GIVS goals are to be reached.
The Issue of Storing and Transporting Vaccines and Temperature
National health systems will need to be improved to support successful delivery of high-quality vaccines, which requires a comprehensive temperature-controlled delivery system called the cold chain.
More deaths could be prevented and illnesses avoided, if vaccines which are sensitive both to excessive heat and excessive cold (kept between 2 and 8 degrees celsius), were transported and stored correctly.
There is development of more temperature stable vaccines is ongoing and as countries get wealthier they get more refrigeration capacity. One possibility is to use excess power at offgrid cellphone towers for refrigeration. Countries without enough electrical grid are still getting cellphones and the transmission towers have independent power supplies.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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