Immunizing the children of the world: progress and prospects

Bull World Health Organ. 1988;66(5):535-43.


PIP: The Expanded Program on Immunization was initiated by the World Health Organization in 1974. In 1984, the World Bank, the UN Development Program, the UN Children's Fund, the World Health Organization, and the Rockefeller Foundation formed the Task Force for Child Survival, which, along with private and voluntary groups mobilizes support for the Immunization Program. With collaboration from the US Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization has produced training materials for use in various countries and worked with the UN Childrens Fund, which has contributed new cold chain methods for the immunization program. The immunization program provided a building block for a health infrastructure in many countries. It collaborated with the Diarrheal Diseases Control Program to develop integrated training programs, with the Division of Family Health to develop a training module on child spacing, and with the Nutrition Program in introducing vitamin A and iodine supplementation. In 1974, fewer than 5% of children in developing countries were immunized; today 50% are reached with a 3rd dose of polio or diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccines. Immunization started slowly and then increased rapidly since the mid-1980s because the program's 1st objectives were to develop sound national plans and to train a core of competent managers in each country. Measles immunization coverage is low (37%) because the vaccination program is recent and the present vaccine cannot be given before the age of 9 months. Coverage of pregnant women for tetanus is even lower (19%). The number of immunizations could be increased if clinics would provide immunizations during acute care visits. Community mobilization and outside financial assistance are needed; full immunization of 1 child costs $10. The Expanded Program on Immunization hopes to achieve the eradication of polio by 2000 and the eradication of neonatal tetanus and 90% reduction in measles by 1995. Vaccines are being developed for yellow fever, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis B, rotavirus, typhoid, shigella, cholera, and leprosy, as well as a measles vaccine that can be given at 6 months. Primary care emphases will be on maternal and child nutrition, diarrheal disease control, birth spacing, and vitamin A and iodine supplementation. The Expanded Program on Immunization will focus on applied research, leaving basic research to be carried out by the Vaccine Development Program, the Basic Vaccinology Program, the Special Program of Research Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, and the Diseases Control Program.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Communicable Disease Control*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Immunization*
  • International Cooperation
  • World Health Organization