Tuesday May 21, 2019

Vaccine Price Drop will Save Millions of Child Lives in World’s Poorest Countries, says UNICEF

The U.N. children’s fund reports 1.5 million children under five die each year from illnesses preventable by vaccines

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FILE - Health official administers a polio vaccine to a child in Kawo Kano, Nigeria.VOA

Geneva, October 20, 2016: The U.N. Children’s Fund reports a steep drop in the price of a crucial childhood vaccine will prevent millions of deaths in dozens of the world’s poorest countries.

The U.N. children’s fund reports 1.5 million children under five die each year from illnesses preventable by vaccines. Thanks to a breakthrough deal with six pharmaceutical companies to lower the price of a pentavalent vaccine many of these deaths will be averted.

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Director of UNICEF’s supply and procurement headquarters, Shanelle Hall, says it has taken 16 years to bring down the price of the vaccine.

“From next year through 2019, we will be able to procure this pentavalent vaccine, which protects children against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza B for less than one dollar a dose, and that is half the price that we pay this year, this month, this week,” she said.

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Hall says that averages out to 84 cents a dose. She says 90 percent of the world’s children under five who die from vaccine-preventable diseases live in countries where vaccines are not fully funded by donors. She says the lower vaccine cost will make a difference between life and death.

“This price decrease will generate a savings of over $366 million for donors and governments who finance the vaccine,” she said. “And, it is important for access and also for pressures on national budgets.”

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The vaccine alliance GAVI funds immunization programs in developing countries. It estimates 5.7 million fewer children will die between 2011 and 2020 in 80 countries that will procure these cheap vaccines.

Hall says by 2020 donors will pay less as national budgets increasingly cover the cost of the pentavalent vaccines themselves. (VOA)

  • Ruchika Kumari

    Good initiative
    There are still many kids who are not getting proper vaccine due to their poverty….hope this gonna work.

Next Story

UNICEF to Bring 11,000 Lower-Income South Africa High School Girls in Tech Industries

Women are woefully underrepresented in technology, science, engineering and mathematics jobs in South Africa

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UNICEF
Women are woefully underrepresented in technology, science, engineering and mathematics jobs in South Africa. But for the last decade, a homegrown, UNICEF-supported program has worked to bring 11,000 lower-income high school girls into these industries. VOA

Women are woefully underrepresented in technology, science, engineering and mathematics jobs in South Africa. But for the last decade, a homegrown, UNICEF-supported program has worked to bring 11,000 lower-income high school girls into these industries.

Among those students was Raquel Sorota. Sorota has come a long way from her humble upbringing in Johannesburg’s Tembisa township. She now works as a risk engineer at a top South African insurance company.

She was those one of those South African high school girls who went through the UNICEF-supported TechnoGirls program, which started in 2005. She was selected for the program in 2009. Now 24, she says it changed her life.

“My life has literally never been the same again,” she said. “So, before the program, I wanted to be a doctor and today I’m an engineer, through that program. So I think a lot of what I think I took from that program was how it exposed me to the world of engineering. I think for the longest time I never knew how broad that world was and that I could have a place in that world, most importantly.”

Bright, disadvantaged girls

The program selects bright high school girls from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, gives them exposure to professions in science, technology, engineering and math, pairs them with mentors, and follows them through their university studies.

The program’s founder, Staff Sithole, says this is about much more than creating a new crop of workers. This, she says, is about changing the world — and who runs it.

“It is more an instrument, or a program, which is contributing towards gender equality. So rather than just running advocacy programs, let’s come with something that can change the circumstances, can be a purposeful targeted intervention of contributing towards gender equality,” she said.

Challenging obstacles

For high school students Gugulethu Zungu and Queen Makaile, the obstacles are more than just lack of opportunity. Both are physically challenged; they were both born with different, rare genetic defects that have affected their appearance and their health. Both were chosen to participate in the program this year for their high grades in math and science.

Zungu says the program led her to identify her dream career — forensics — but also to expand her horizons.

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“I like investigating and solving mysteries. And it actually makes me believe that, indeed, nothing is impossible. You just have to think out of the box,” she said.

Makaile, who has struggled with hearing and vision problems as a result of her rare defect that has also given her asymmetrical facial features, says she now wants to be come a journalist, to show the world that her thoughts matter more than her looks. For these girls, nothing, they say, will stand in their way. (VOA)