Half a century of EPI: More than 154 million lives saved thanks to vaccines

May 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of its founding. Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), an initiative launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1974 that transformed the health of children around the world. The EPI, now known as the Essential Immunization Program, played a critical role in expand access to vaccines and significantly improve performance child survival.

At the beginning of the program, only 5% of children received recommended vaccines in the first year of life. Present tense at least 89% of children worldwide receive their first dose of vaccine such as diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio in the first year of life. This progress has been made possible through the cooperation of governments, international organizations and individuals.

Influence and achievements

According to a recent study, over the past 50 years Vaccines prevented more than 154 million premature deaths, saving 101 million lives of children under one year of age. These figures highlight the enormous impact of EPI in reducing child mortality and preventing serious illness.

In addition, PAI contributed to eradication of smallpox and significant reductions in other vaccine-preventable diseases. Polio has been eradicated in many countries, and the incidence of diseases such as measles and rubella has dropped sharply.

Challenges and the future

Despite the achievements, serious challenges still exist: the pandemic Covid-19 has disrupted national immunization programs, leaving 67 million children without one or more vaccines. Moreover, inequalities in access to vaccines persist, especially in regions with fewer resources.

The future of EPI is focused on improve vaccine equity, develop new vaccines and delivery technologies, and strengthen local vaccine production capacity in regions with fewer resources. These efforts are essential to continue making progress in protecting children’s health and continuing to save lives around the world.

International cooperation and technological innovation They will continue to be critical to the continued success of the EPI. Initiatives such as introducing combination vaccineswhich protect against multiple diseases with a single dose and development new vaccines against new diseases, are examples of how PAI continues to evolve to meet new challenges.

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