Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

Immunization highlights: 2011

Advocating for immunization

About 180 countries and territories celebrate Immunization Week

A health worker prepares the vaccination syringe while parents and children wait in line - Nicaragua 2010

In April 2011, about 180 countries and territories across five WHO regions ― Africa, Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe and the Western Pacific participated in Immunization Week. Various events and activities were held to boost awareness of immunization and improve community demand for vaccines and delivery of services.

These activities included:

  • dissemination of information;
  • training sessions and workshops for health workers;
  • exhibitions;
  • roundtable discussions with political decision makers, medical professionals, parents, and caregivers; and
  • vaccination campaigns to protect vulnerable populations against diseases such as diphtheria, hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, maternal and neonatal tetanus, polio, rubella, whooping cough and yellow fever.

"Yet, with all the positive cooperation, innovation and collaboration that exist, we are at risk of losing many of the gains that have been made and forgoing the additional benefits that are within reach. For example, the recent outbreaks of measles, pertussis and polio in different parts of the world have made us all the more aware of the work that remains to be done. I believe Immunization Week will have a significant impact on emphasizing the need to remain vigilant against vaccine-preventable diseases – even those that we do not see within our communities."

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General in her 2011 Immunization Week statement

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Hepatitis affects everyone, everywhere

Poster for World Hepatitis Day 2011

28 July 2011 marks the first official WHO-supported World Hepatitis Day with the theme "Know it. Confront it, Hepatitis affects everyone, everywhere". Hepatitis is one of the most prevalent and serious infectious conditions in the world, but many people remain unaware of their infection. They face the possibility of developing debilitating or fatal liver disease at some point in their lives and they could unknowingly pass on the infection to others.

Hepatitis kills more than one million people every year. Millions more suffer immediate sickness or long-term ill health. Early diagnosis provides the best opportunity for effective medical support. It allows those infected to take steps to prevent transmission to others and to take precautions to protect the liver from additional harm, specifically, by eliminating alcohol and certain drugs which are toxic to the liver.

To draw attention to the terrible effects of hepatitis, WHO has produced a short animated video, with support from our main civil society partner, the World Hepatitis Alliance.

"My first advice to people: get tested. Many millions of people are chronic carriers of these viruses, show no symptoms, and yet develop severe, life-threatening disease later in life. Knowing your status helps you take measures to protect your own health and that of your family".

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General in her video address on World Hepatitis Day

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