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WHO Says Vaccines Save Up to 3 Million Children a Year

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report. The World Health Organization says vaccinations against disease save the lives of 2 to 3 million children every year.

The WHO says almost 80 percent of babies are vaccinated against preventable diseases like diphtheria, measles and whooping cough. But 20 percent are not protected. That is about 22 million children. That is why many efforts to end polio and measles have not succeeded.

Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele is director of immunization for the World Health Organization. He says one problem is that the cost of newer vaccines is too high for poor countries. Most of the unvaccinated children live in Africa and Southeast Asia. Eighty percent of them live in just 10 countries. The list includes Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Dr. Okwo-Bele says limited resources for health care systems also reduce the ability of poor countries to vaccinate children. For example, some countries are not able to store vaccines at cold temperatures until they can be used. But the official says there are some improvements in getting vaccines to clinics and children.

Dr. Okwo-Bele says a new vaccine against meningitis A in Benin and West Africa has been designed to remain effective at warmer temperatures. The WHO says governments need to vaccinate more children. The UN agency also says health officials and governments must do a better job of telling people about the benefits of vaccines. Dr. Okwo-Bele says that includes making sure people understand that many stories about vaccines are not true.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 30Apr2013)

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