a) Smallpox eradication: In 1977 Smallpox was eradicated after a successful ten year campaign carried out by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Read more on the success of the campaign here. Before the vaccination program began, smallpox threatened 60% of the world's population and killed every fourth person infected. Vaccinologists are applying the lessons learnt during the eradication of smallpox to control and eliminate many other vaccine preventable diseases.

b) Towards eradication of poliomyelitis: Development of an effective vaccine against polio was heralded as one of the major medical breakthroughs in 20th century. Currently, several different formulations of polio vaccines are in use to stop polio transmission. Poliovirus infections have fallen by more than 99% (from an estimated 350 000 cases in 1988, to 416 reported cases in 2013. Over five million people have escaped paralysis since the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988 by WHO and its partners. Polio has been eradicated in the western hemisphere and many other countries have been declared polio free. As at the end of 2012 polio was endemic in only three countries in the world. Read more about polio eradication plans here. According to the GPEI, if enough people in all communities are immunized, the polio virus will be limited to spread and it will die out. High levels of vaccination coverage against polio must be maintained to stop transmission and prevent outbreaks occurring. The GPEI is constantly assessing the optimal use of the different vaccines to prevent paralytic polio and stop poliovirus transmission in different areas of the world.

c) Accelerated control of measles: Measles vaccination resulted in a 75% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2013 worldwide. During the same period, measles cases dropped by 58% (from 853,500 to 355,000). WHO recommends that every child should receive two doses of measles vaccine. According to a report by the Measles and Rubella Initiative, African countries have made the most progress and reduced measles deaths by about 86% between 2000 and 2014. For more information visit this site.   

d) Control of meningitis epidemic in Africa: Meningitis is a serious public health problem among 25 countries in the “African Meningitis Belt”, which extends from Senegal on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to Eritrea along the Red Sea. About half a million people living in this region are at risk of epidemic meningitis each year. In 1996, there was a particularly devastating meningitis outbreak, which caused more than 250,000 cases and 25,000 deaths; mainly due to Neisseria meningitides group A (Men A). In 2001, a public-private partnership called the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) was created with the goal of eliminating meningococcal epidemics in Africa. The key partners were the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), WHO, and the Serum Institute of India Limited. The MVP is a modern vaccine success story: within 10 years, the MVP partnership developed an affordable Men A conjugate vaccine. The vaccine reduced the incidence of meningitis of any kind by 94 percent following a mass immunization campaign in Chad, West Africa.

e) Routine childhood vaccination coverage: Routine childhood vaccination coverage has greatly increased since WHO's Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) began in 1974. For example, according to WHO, in 2010 and globally, an estimated 85% of children under one year of age had received at least three doses of DTP vaccine (DTP3), up from about 5% in 1974. Largely due to the success of EPI, it is estimated that immunization currently averts an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths every year. Additional vaccines have now been added to the original six recommended in 1974. For example, South Africa has 11 different vaccines in the EPI schedule as at the beginning of 2017.


Page created on 30 January 2015

Page last updated on 27 March 2017

References: World Health Organization (WHO), Global Polio Eradication Intiative (GPEI) and Measles & Rubella Intiative (MRI).