2.9m infants did not get any vaccines in 2016

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Since 2010, the vaccination rate among children stands at 86%, still far from the target of 90% set by the UN.

"Most of the children that remain un-immunized are the same ones missed by health systems", says Dr Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, Director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO. "These children most likely have also not received any of the other basic health services".

Of the estimated 10 million children, in 64 countries out of 194 World Health Organization member States which have not achieved this target, 7.3 million live in fragile situations or in humanitarian emergencies, including countries affected by conflict. Largely because of global inoculation programs, the lives of 122 million children have been saved since 1990 alone. Around 7.3 million of these live in humanitarian crisis environments or conflict zones, and about 4 million live in just three countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Nevertheless, coverage levels remain well short of those required to prevent outbreaks, avert preventable deaths and achieve regional measles elimination goals.

DTP3 coverage has increased in Ghana from 88% in 2015 to 93% in 2016.

Additionally, concerted effort is required in the progress against rubella (which can cause hearing impairment, congenital heart defects and blindness and other life-long disabilities), which has seen global coverage increase from 35 per cent in 2010 to 47 per cent previous year.

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Global coverage of more recently-recommended vaccines are yet to reach 50% which include vaccinations against major killers of children such as rotavirus, a disease that causes severe childhood diarrhoea, and pneumonia.

National coverage estimates often mask large inequities in coverage within countries.

According to WHO-UNICEF data, many middle-income countries still lag behind in the introduction of newer and more expensive vaccines and disparities persist within countries, implying the need for more work to reduce inequalities related to household economic status, mother's education as well as those living in rural and urban areas in many countries.

"Immunization is one of the most pro-equity interventions around", says Dr Robin Nandy, Chief of Immunizations at UNICEF. Of 194 reporting countries, 125 reported on subnational coverage, covering almost 20 000 districts and roughly two-thirds of the global infant population.

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