Many of the world's most deadly diseases and infections are preventable. Illnesses that used to claim the lives of millions, such as polio, have been virtually eradicated in developed countries thanks to advances in modern medicine. However, for families living in poverty, potentially lifesaving vaccinations are often out of reach. In addition, the costs of even the most basic vaccines have risen during the past decade, making it challenging for child-focused aid organizations like ChildFund to provide children in need with the medicines that could save their lives.
Although largely eliminated in developed countries, polio remains resilient in developing countries. Children are at particular risk from polio, and if they develop this disease, the results are sometimes fatal or permanently disabling. In Somalia, available supplies of polio vaccines have become so scarce that the country now has the smallest reserves of medicine and the largest concentration of confirmed polio cases in the world.
Although the number of cases of polio in African countries is high, these nations are not the only places where this disease is a serious concern. In Indonesia, polio was eradicated in the mid-1990s, but in May 2005, the country began to experience a resurgence of the disease. The Philippines is another country where polio threatens the lives of vulnerable children living in the nation's poorest communities. Working together with UNICEF, we supported the immunization of more than 24 million children against polio across Indonesia, but the threat of this disease looms over many other developing nations where resources and support are limited.
ChildFund works with local partners and international organizations like UNICEF to help provide life-saving vaccinations to families living in the world's poorest countries, but without the support of our donors, this has proven challenging in recent years due to escalating costs of vaccines.
According to Doctors Without Borders, in 2011 alone, an estimated 22 million children went without even the most basic vaccinations against preventable diseases. In addition, it is often children who are the most vulnerable who go without these life-saving medications, such as refugees, families living in areas where conflicts are prevalent and those in the poorest countries in the world.
In 2001, a package of medicines to inoculate people against six diseases cost $1.37 per package. This figure rose to more than $38 in 2011, although the range of diseases covered also increased from six to 11. The two most recently developed vaccines, which prevent rotavirus and pneumococcal conjugate, account for more than 70 percent of these costs.
With rising costs and greater need for these drugs, we have much work to do. Please consider sponsoring a child by today and help ChildFund save the lives of children at risk of preventable diseases.