November 1, 2013 | The Editors

Immunization: the good, the bad, the intriguing

A baby held on mother's lap opens mouth to receive a drop of polio vaccine.
An infant receives oral polio vaccine. Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.

A substantial amount of this week’s news focused on immunization, from the good (number of children vaccinated) to the bad (polio’s return to Syria), and the intriguing (what do Rwandans know about HPV vaccine that many in wealthier countries ignore?)

Child immunization to avert 4 million deaths by 2015, says GAVI report

The Guardian, October 30, 2013

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) says it is on track to enable developing countries to immunize an additional quarter of a billion children by 2015, it but acknowledges that it needs to improve on equity. In its midterm review, GAVI said in addition to reaching its goal of helping developing countries immunize 243 million children between 2011 and 2015, it was also on target to help avert nearly 4 million deaths during the same period.

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Violence, chaos let polio creep back into Syria and Horn of Africa

NPR, October 30, 2013

Polio has reemerged in war-torn Syria after more than a decade, the World Health Organization reported Tuesday. “The original cluster of suspected cases was 22 cases,” says the WHO’s Oliver Rosenbauer. “Out of those, 10 have now been confirmed as polio. The others are still being processed in the laboratory.”

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Learning from Rwanda

Project Syndicate, October 29, 2013

How is it that Rwanda, among the world’s poorest countries—and still recovering from a brutal civil war—is able to protect its teenage girls against cancer more effectively than the G-8 countries? After just one year, Rwanda reported vaccinating more than 93 percent of its adolescent girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV)—by far the largest cause of cervical cancer. Vaccine coverage in the world’s richest countries varies, but in some places it is less than 30 percent.

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Tuberculosis: a war that must be won on the ground and in the field

The Lancet Global Health Blog, October 28, 2013

Once, in a low-income country, I witnessed a dismaying scene: cartons of lifesaving medicines stacked high in a storeroom, going nowhere as they slowly spoiled—because public health workers could not get them to the remote villages where people lay dying for want of them. This disturbing image comes to mind—as do similar tales of lives lost because of health system inadequacies—whenever talk runs high of anticipated new scientific breakthroughs in my organization’s primary disease of concern, tuberculosis. The status of detecting and treating tuberculosis today is one of paradox: the tools to eradicate it exist—but we aren’t deploying them effectively enough to save all the lives that could be saved.

Read the article.

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