Red Cross warns of lack of vaccination funding

The Red Cross published a report this week that claims a $4 billion funding shortfall could threaten vaccination campaigns that prevent the deaths of over a million children every year.

"There is untapped potential within vaccination and millions more lives could be saved," the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a statement on September 14, according to AFP. "With the introduction of pneumococcal vaccine and rotavirus vaccine, 840,000 and 200,000 lives could be saved each year, respectively, in the poorest countries."

The study claims that 36 percent of the deaths of children under the age of five are related to just two diseases - pneumonia and diarrhea. The IFRC believes that these deaths could be prevented with relatively low cost immunization measures, according to AFP.

An expansion of routine vaccination programs against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, the IFRC statement said, could help to save an additional 4 million lives.

A funding gap of $4 billion, however, stands in the way and could prevent the IFRC from achieving the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, which are at the top of the United Nations General Assembly meeting agenda. That meeting begins on September 23.

"Immunization to date has been a triumph," Bekele Geleta, secretary general of the IFRC, told AFP. "But broadly speaking, the world has done the 'easy' 80 percent; the 'difficult' 20 percent remains."