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Local Research, Production Can Boost Global Vaccine Use

Gap between developed and developing countries' access to vaccine can be narrowed

FRIDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- Lack of access to vaccines in low- and middle-income countries causes over 2 million avoidable deaths a year, according to an article published in the April 5 issue of BMJ.

Dave A. Chokshi, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and Aaron S. Kesselheim, M.D., of the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, write that two-thirds of these avoidable deaths occur among children under 5 years of age. Unequal access to immunization is usually blamed on inadequate health care infrastructure, lack of funding, and vaccine approval in developing countries being dependent on prior approval in the developed world.

The authors argue that immunization programs can create opportunities for building health care infrastructure, that the orthodox cost-funding model for calculating affordability of vaccination programs ignores the cost benefits, and that reliance on prior approval in developed countries creates a disincentive to develop vaccines targeted at the developing world.

"The ultimate aim of any effort to improve global access to vaccines must be to show local leaders in health care and government the benefits of vaccination," the authors write. "Local political leadership, when combined with international financing mechanisms, can increase investment in health, prioritize disease prevention, and raise awareness about the individual benefits of vaccination."

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