Health experts from around the world were to meet in New Delhi on Thursday to assess progress made in developing new vaccines to fight killer diseases among children in the world's poorest countries.
Scientists were expected to present advances in several new generation vaccines targeting diseases such as Japanese encephalitis, meningitis-causing Haemophilus influenza and other deadly diseases that kill approximately two million children each year.
The meeting is being organized by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, or GAVI, and is also aimed at increasing awareness among policy makers about diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.
"Even when a vaccine is available, problems related to costs, availability, and awareness of the burden of the disease can delay adoption for years or decades," Julian Lob-Levyt, executive secretary of the GAVI Alliance, said in a statement.
The alliance plans to launch an initiative this week to promote a newly develop vaccine for Haemophilus influenza, or Hib. Doctors in the developed world have started using the vaccine, but it is rarely administered in developing countries.
Hib is spread by droplets expelled when people cough or sneeze, and often breaks out in overcrowded areas. It's estimated to cause 3 million cases of serious illness, mainly pneumonia and meningitis, in children under 5 years of age and about 400,000 deaths each year, the vast majority of them in developing countries, the statement said.
GAVI was launched in 2000 by the United Nations, governments around the world, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the vaccine industry to tackle acute health problems in developing nations.
About 2 million people die every year from vaccine-preventable diseases including diphtheria, measles, tuberculosis, hepatitis B and yellow fever, with most of the victims in poor countries.
GAVI said that since it was established its programs have helped prevent more than 670,000 premature deaths by improving access to basic children's vaccines, accelerating the development and introduction of new vaccines, and helping low-income countries improve immunization coverage, reported AP. P.T.