vaccination has triumphed in eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus in Mali.

Joint press release: Ministry of Health and Social Development – WHO – UNICEF.

BAMAKO, May 24, 2024 – Vaccination has played a crucial role in improving public health around the world, with recent data highlighting its significant impact in saving lives. A major study in The Lancet finds that global vaccination efforts have saved an estimated 154 million lives – the equivalent of 6 lives saved every minute of every year – over the past 50 years. The vast majority of lives saved – 101 million – or 65.6% of lives saved, were those of infants.

The study, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), shows that vaccination is the greatest contribution of all health interventions to ensuring that babies not only see their first birthday, but continue to lead a healthy life. healthy life in adulthood.

In July 2023, the WHO announced that Mali had officially eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus, a major advance for public health in a country where maternal and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world. This status was confirmed following a detailed assessment, which demonstrated that Mali meets the WHO standard of less than one case of neonatal tetanus per 1,000 live births in each of its health districts. The effectiveness of vaccines in preventing this disease in mothers and newborns has been instrumental in reaching this incredible milestone, highlighting the enormous benefits of vaccination programs.

“This achievement reflects the joint effort of various stakeholders dedicated to improving public health,” said Dr. Col. Assa Badiallo Touré, Minister of Health and Social Development. “Vaccination has proven to be an indispensable tool in preventing disease and saving lives, and we must continue to prioritize and strengthen immunization programs. »

Through a comprehensive strategy to strengthen vaccine distribution systems, Mali has been at the forefront of this life-saving effort, including focusing on the eradication of maternal and neonatal tetanus. The country successfully eliminated this deadly disease through a concerted effort by the government, health professionals, WHO, UNICEF, GAVI and with the support of other partners.

“Vaccines are undoubtedly one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine, and their impact on public health is inestimable,” said Dr. Itama Christian, WHO Acting Representative in Mali. “Thanks to the efforts made, we have moved from prevention to eradication of diseases, making the use of vaccines an impressive success against diseases and preserving the health of future generations. »

The study found that for every life saved by vaccination, an average of 66 years of full health were gained – with a total of 10.2 billion years of full health gained over the five decades. As a result of polio vaccination, more than 20 million people who would have otherwise been paralyzed can walk today, and the world is on the verge of eradicating the disease, once and for all.

These gains in child survival underscore the importance of preserving immunization progress in every country around the world and accelerating efforts to reach the 67 million children who have not received one or more vaccines over the years. pandemic, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Mali, a comprehensive strategy to strengthen routine vaccination played a major role. Health centers across the country have been equipped with solar refrigerators to efficiently store vaccines and have been provided with motorcycles and vehicles to facilitate the delivery of vaccination services.

“The remarkable milestone reached in Mali aligns with UNICEF’s global effort to eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Pierre Ngom, UNICEF Representative. “The importance of sustained efforts, funding and collaboration to ensure equitable access to vaccines and to further expand the impact of vaccination programs. By continuing to prioritize vaccination, countries around the world can collectively build on the progress made and contribute to healthier communities. »

UNICEF, as one of the world’s largest vaccine buyers, purchases more than 2 billion doses each year on behalf of countries and partners to reach nearly half of the world’s children. It also works to distribute vaccines to the last mile, ensuring that even remote and underserved communities have access to vaccination services. These efforts are crucial to increasing vaccination coverage.

As the world grapples with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for global vaccination efforts is more critical than ever. Mali’s success story in eliminating tetanus serves as an inspiration and a testament to the power of vaccines to save lives.

Now more than ever, it is essential that governments around the world prioritize investments in immunization to protect one of humanity’s greatest achievements, because no child should die from a disease we know how to prevent. Together, we can build a world where preventable diseases no longer pose a threat. It’s humanly possible.

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