The eighth European Immunisation Week (EIW) takes place this week between 22-27 April. Through the slogan “Prevent. Protect. Immunise.” the EIW promotes that the immunisation of every child is vital to prevent diseases and protect life.
Bringing together stakeholders to unite their important immunisation-related work, the goal of the EIW is to increase vaccination coverage by raising awareness of the importance of immunisation. For this purpose during this week national and local initiatives are being organised throughout the Region to raise awareness and increase vaccination uptake.
A good example of the initiatives organised this week is the launch by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) of a Vaccine Scheduler that allows for a comparison of schedules across two countries and enables to view the vaccination calendar by disease for all or a selection of countries. This new platform of vaccination schedules has been developed in collaboration with the Groupe d’Etudes en Preventologie.
Furthermore, in its efforts towards the elimination of measles the ECDC has also developed a Measles Atlas that offers an easy to understand visualisation of the progress towards this goal in each European country.
Public personalities have also joined their efforts to raise awareness on the importance of immunisation. Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, as patron of the WHO regional office for Europe, has issued a statement urging for immunisation in Europe. “Allowing diseases to spread because we have failed to adequately immunise our children is not an option”, states Crown Princess Mary who urges parents, healthcare workers and public health workers to take action as “when it comes to eliminating a disease, there is no room for complacency”.
In parallel, today kicks off in Abu Dhabi the Global Vaccine Summit (24-25 April) co-hosted by Bill gates, His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The meeting will celebrate the progress made in the Decade of Vaccines to immunise children everywhere and will be focused on sharing best practices, announcing new technical and political commitments and discussing what needs to be done to achieve global child health.
One of the primary focuses of the summit will be to further strengthen the global polio eradication effort. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched in 1988 following the certification of the eradication of smallpox in 1980. Today only three countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 in 1988 and 2012 registered 223 cases worldwide.
“Polio is pretty special because once you get an eradication you no longer have to spend money on it; it’s just there as a gift for the rest of time.” Bill Gates said.
European, African and Asian politicians, public health and business leaders will back a $5.5bn plan to eradicate polio within five years and will seek to find the estimated $2.5bn outstanding to fund the intensified vaccination that they hope will eliminate the disease as soon as 2015 and at the latest by 2018.