World Immunization Day

November 10, 2012

Each year, millions of children in developing countries die before their fifth birthday from preventable diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and measles.

Although some of the solutions to preventing these deaths — like vaccines and access to clean water — appear to be simple, implementing them can be complex. In many developing countries, health systems are weak, there simply aren't enough trained health workers, and distributing vaccines is often difficult especially in remote or conflict-affected areas.

The Government of Canada has made immunization a major part of its maternal, newborn and child health investments in developing countries. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) works with experienced partners to achieve lasting results. For example, CIDA supports UNICEF and the World Health Organization's routine immunization work in more than 20 countries worldwide. We also work with the GAVI Alliance to increase access to affordable existing vaccines and accelerate the introduction of new vaccines. Since 2010, support from CIDA and other donors has helped GAVI to successfully introduce the life-saving vaccine for pneumonia in 18 developing countries, where the illness is a serious threat to children under five.

Canada is also a key supporter of the global effort to eradicate polio. In September, I was pleased to announce CIDA's collaboration with Rotary Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will promote awareness of this important issue across Canada and raise up to $3 million for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Thanks to the efforts of developing countries and global partners, immunization programs have significantly increased. The supply of influenza vaccines has expanded and more children are being immunized than ever before. Intensified vaccination campaigns have reduced polio cases by more than 99 percent and global measles mortality by 74 percent. These are real, concrete results that are having a positive impact on an entire generation of children. The global aim now is to reach the remaining 23 million infants in developing countries who still do not receive the necessary immunization they need to live healthy, normal lives.

We believe that every child deserves a fair chance in life. On this day, Canadians can be proud of their government's efforts in providing life-saving vaccines to children across the world.

Julian Fantino
Minister of International Cooperation