Dr Philippa Whitford MP
MP for Central Ayrshire and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Vaccinations for All
Every child, no matter where they are born, deserves a life free from preventable diseases. Without prioritising vaccinations, we risk losing hard won health improvements and seeing the return of deadly infectious diseases.
This is not only a moral responsibility, but also a case of global health security as, with increased global travel, the risk of epidemics is on the increase. Disease outbreaks, such as the recurrent Ebola outbreaks, cause vast human and economic costs – it is estimated that the cost of severe pandemics could reach up to £450 billion a year.
Vaccination is proven to be extremely effective
Vaccination saves up to three million lives every year, and millions more from disability; cutting polio cases from 350,000 in 1988 to just 33 in 2017, thanks to successful global vaccination projects. Vaccines also have wider lifetime benefits, from improving a child’s physical, mental and educational development, to strengthening a country’s health system and economy. They are also central for tackling the growing threat of antibiotic resistant infections, as they prevent diseases and the need to use antibiotics in the first place.
It is imperative that the UK Government prioritises vaccinations in domestic and international policy, and encourages other governments to do the same.
Collaboration between government is essential
Despite the known value of vaccines, one in 10 children globally still receives no vaccines at all. This is why it is imperative that the UK Government prioritises vaccinations in domestic and international policy, and encourages other governments to do the same. At the same time, we must continue to support organisations such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, who support access to affordable vaccines for lower-income countries, to give every child an equal shot at a disease and disability-free life.
Complacency about the threat of life changing infectious diseases is leading to reduced uptake of many crucial vaccines, as shown, by the recent outbreaks of measles across the world. With 82,000 cases of measles across Europe last year, leading to 72 deaths, we are complacent at our own peril.