A child receives a shot in Gisambai, Kenya on Mar 7, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
The World Health Organization is working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other not-for profit organizations and agencies to reverse a pandemic-driven decline in routine childhood vaccinations.
The initiative was launched on Monday by the WHO, UNICEF, the GAVI vaccine alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation among others, and seeks to protect countries from vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks such as measles and yellow fever.
Vaccination rates in children during the pandemic took a hit due to overburdened clinics, lockdown restrictions and disruptions in transport of vials, syringes and other medical supplies
The efforts will focus on boosting rates in 20 countries, which account for 75 percent of the children who missed vaccinations in 2021.
READ MORE: People 'lost faith in childhood jabs' during COVID pandemic
"WHO is supporting dozens of countries to restore immunization and other essential health services. Catching up is a top priority. No child should die of a vaccine-preventable disease," WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Vaccination rates in children during the pandemic took a hit due to overburdened clinics, lockdown restrictions and disruptions in transport of vials, syringes and other medical supplies.
According to the WHO, 25 million children under the age of 1 year did not receive basic vaccines in 2021 and global immunization coverage for children dropped to 81 percent that year from 86 percent in 2019.
READ MORE: China to extend mass vaccination program to minors aged 12-17
People all over the world lost confidence in the importance of routine childhood vaccines against killer diseases such as measles and polio during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from UNICEF last week.