Avoiding Preventable Diseases

Vaccination is the key topic of the second day of the World Health Summit.

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“Every minute three children die from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccination,” said Dagfinn Høybråten, Chair of the Board of the GAVI Alliance, the Public-Private-Partnership, which was created in 2000 and brings together governments from industrialized and developing countries, vaccine manufactures, several health organizations, the WHO and the Worldbank.

Høybråten went on to explain: “We have everything the vaccines and knowledge, but we are not doing enough. Despite the economic crisis, the trend appears to be reversing, since the states are closing ranks and giving money to vaccination campaigns.”

This positive trend was also affirmed by Ruhal Haque, Minister of Health and Family Welfare of Bangladesh. With the help of organizations such as GAVI, more than 80% of the population have been vaccinated through the 20,000 mobile vaccination stations that are in use.

“Vaccines save lives and are therefore an instrumental part of the global agenda. We need science and research in order to develop vaccines like those against AIDS or malaria,” added Stefan Kaufmann, Director of the Max-Planck Institute for Infection Biology. According to him, “in the last few years, science has developed rapidly and due to immunology, research into vaccines has become increasingly more complex.”

“Today the competition for a place on the agenda is very high. Currently, the economic crisis determines the decisions. To call attention, conferences such as the World Health Summit are therefore crucial. The work is absolutely worthwhile, since we are dealing with human lives after all,“ said Dagfinn Høybråten.

Since yesterday, 1200 leading international personalities from science, politics, economics and civil society have been discussing the current challenges in global health.

Under the motto Today’s Science – Tomorrow’s Agenda, the Summit will discuss topics ranging from the impact of climate change on health, the rapid increase in chronic diseases in developing and industrialized countries as well as the worldwide burden caused by mental diseases; vaccine strategies and international health policy.

“We need to establish a closer network between the different sectors of research and health care, as this is the only way to counter the current global challenges,” says Karl Max Einhäupl, CEO of Charité at Sunday’s opening press conference.

Mickey Chopra, Chief of Health and Associate Director of Programmes at UNICEF, who also spoke at the press conference demanded that global health investments need to reach the right people. He observed that even though much has been achieved through the Millenium Development Goals, every day more than 20,000 children are dying. For this reason, he said, we need more concentrated action from politics, industry and civil society.