Value of Immunization: Global Issues

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Global Issues

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This cross-cutting section examines the linkages between large-scale current issues – such as humanitarian emergencies and antibiotic resistance – and vaccination, and illustrates how vaccination can either work to prevent the escalation of these threats, or to protect critically vulnerable groups from their negative impacts. Inclusion of a subject in the "Global Issues" section of VoICE reflects a current high level of interest from global health and immunization advocates, and these areas are often fondly referred to as "Hot Topics" by the VoICE team. Currently, Global Issues looks at the role of vaccination in slowing the spread of antimicrobial resistance, in supporting health security, and in protecting those living in settings of conflict or humanitarian crisis plagued by conditions that exacerbate disease transmission and mortality.
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Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is the ability of certain strains of microorganisms to develop partial or complete resistance to antibiotics, rendering the antibiotic ineffective to treat the disease or condition. Antibiotic resistant infections carry high treatment costs and can threaten the security of others, increasing the importance of prevention for those vaccine-preventable diseases prone to the development of antibiotic resistance. Related information can be found in the Economics and Health Security sections.

Refugee area with tarp tents

Conflict and Humanitarian emergencies

Humanitarian emergencies and infectious diseases have a mutually negative impact on one another. Crisis settings like refugee camps, war zones and communities hit by natural disasters are often plagued by factors that increase the risk and severity of infectious diseases. Malnutrition, poverty, crowding, complicating health issues and minimal or no access to medicine and other treatment services are common, and increase the importance of disease prevention efforts like immunization and clean water. At the same time, the unchecked spread of potentially vaccine-preventable diseases in these communities can further destabilize already fragile communities and dramatically increase suffering.

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Health security

Health security refers to the importation of diseases across international borders that may present a threat to domestic disease control. Disease prevention worldwide through immunization is critical for increasing domestic health security. The increasing Antibiotic Resistance of some diseases, such as pneumococcal disease and tuberculosis, is especially worrisome given the high cost of treatment and capacity for these diseases to spread. The spread of disease across borders can have serious Economic consequences.

Outbreaks

An outbreak of infectious disease is defined as the occurrence of a disease in a population at levels above the expected baseline. These unexpected clusters of disease are costly to investigate and control, and if unchecked, can grow to epidemic proportions. A large proportion of infectious disease outbreaks in the past two decades were due to vaccine-preventable infectious diseases, underscoring the importance of primary prevention -- through high immunization coverage. Infectious disease outbreaks have widespread consequences for the health system, economic growth, social and political stability beyond the immediate impact on the health of those affected. The economic toll can include everything from reductions in international trade and lost productivity, to the significant financial strain on families from costs of treatment and caretaker productivity losses.

A woman carrying vaccines

Search for immunization evidence

The VoICE tool allows you to search for research studies and published evidence based on a topic, location, and disease or vaccine.

Search VoICE