Many people in developing countries don’t have access to the vaccines that we take for granted in the United States. As a result, they suffer from high rates of vaccine-preventable illnesses like measles.

The real cost of vaccines

Although vaccines seem costly to resource-limited countries, diseases are even more so. Consider measles, responsible for more than 100,000 deaths each year among children.

"Vaccines can benefit not only individual health, but also the social and economic development of countries."

Beyond the suffering and deaths it causes, the economic impact of measles is staggering. Vaccines can benefit not only individual health, but also the social and economic development of countries.

Fortunately, global health organizations such as WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, CDC and The Task Force for Global Health, are working with vaccine manufacturers and others to provide developing countries with greater access to the vaccines they need.

Feeling the effects

The impact of their work has been significant.

Since 2001, Gavi has provided a total of $8.4 billion to the poorest countries in the world, resulting in 500 million childhood immunizations and averting 7 million future deaths due to vaccine-preventable diseases. Another collaboration, the Measles-Rubella Initiative, has provided 1.7 billion doses of measles vaccine to 80 developing countries, increasing global measles vaccination coverage to 85 percent and preventing an estimated 15.6 million deaths.

A newer collaboration, the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction (PIVI), has provided nearly 1 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine in the past two years to high-risk people in four developing countries.

These initiatives are reducing vaccine-preventable diseases in developing countries. But expanding vaccine coverage will require even more partnerships among the global health community, private sector, civil society and governments. Vaccines save lives and all people should have access to them.