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11th Vaccination Week in the Americas seeks to protect 44 million people in 44 countries and territories against dangerous diseases

Washington, D.C., 19 April 2013 (PAHO/WHO) — Health workers and volunteers throughout the hemisphere are gearing up for the 11th annual Vaccination Week in the Americas, which begins this Saturday, April 20, and extends through Saturday, April 27.

Forty-four countries and territories are participating in this year’s initiative, aiming to reach more than 44 million children and adults.

The slogan for this year’s initiative is “Vaccination: a shared responsibility,” highlighting the importance of everyone doing their part in supporting immunization, one of public health’s most important and cost-effective interventions.

Person responsible for vaccination at the Eleazar Germain Hospital in Petion Ville, applies an oral vaccine to a Haitian child.

“Everyone has a part to play in fighting vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). “Governments, in funding programs; national immunization programs, in organizing activities; health workers, in spreading out to the farthest corners of the Americas to vaccinate people of all ages, not only in cities but also in rural and border zones and other hard-to-reach areas. And families and communities, for making sure that everyone gets up to date on their vaccines.”

Vaccination Week is the largest international health effort in the Americas. Since 2003, it has taken the benefits of vaccines to more than 411 million people of all ages, including more than 140 million children under 5 and nearly 139 million senior citizens. The initiative’s success helped inspire the launch in 2012 of World Immunization Week, which is being celebrated again this year by more than 180 countries worldwide.

“The region of the Americas has a proud history of leadership in fighting vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Etienne. “We were the first region in the world to eradicate smallpox and polio and to eliminate measles and rubella. Pan American cooperation has been key to this progress and remains key for protecting our hard-won achievements.”

A number of launching events are planned for Vaccination Week in the Americas this year, including:

  • A regional launch on 24 April in the “Adjacency Zone” between Belize and Guatemala.*
  • A second regional launch on 27 April in Port-of-Prince, Haiti, focusing on vaccinating women ages 15–49 against tetanus and strengthening vaccination in areas of low coverage to keep the country free of measles and rubella.
  • National events in Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Panama, Antigua and Barbuda, the Cayman Islands, and many other countries and territories of Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Bi-national events in border areas including Honduras–Guatemala, Panama–Costa Rica, Panama–Colombia, and Guyana–Suriname.
Participating countries this year are deploying vaccines against diseases including polio, measles, rubella, and congenital rubella syndrome, diphtheria, mumps, whooping cough, neonatal tetanus, influenza, yellow fever, rotavirus, bacterial pneumonia, and human papillomavirus, among others.
 
In addition, 18 countries and territories are planning to carry out supplemental activities such as deworming, vitamin A supplementation, growth monitoring, cancer screening, distribution of water filters, body-mass-index (BMI) screening, and foot care demonstrations for people with diabetes.
 
Throughout its 11-year history, Vaccination Week in the Americas has promoted expanded access to immunization, particularly for vulnerable groups and remote communities that traditionally lack access to health services. The initiative also promotes communication and cooperation between countries and helps keep immunization high on the regional and national political agendas.
 
“Vaccination Week reminds all of us that we cannot become complacent about vaccines. The fact that they have made many diseases disappear and pushed others out of our minds, that does not mean vaccination is no longer necessary,” said PAHO Director Etienne. “Keeping our immunization rates high is key to making sure that none of these diseases can make a comeback.”
 
PAHO, founded in 1902, is the oldest international public health organization in the world. It works with its member countries to improve the health and the quality of life of the people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO.
 
*  Vaccination Week in the Americas reinforces the Agreement to Establish a Transition Process and Confidence Building Measures Between Belize and Guatemala, supported by the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS).
 
 

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Mise à jour le Vendredi, 19 Avril 2013 21:29

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