WHO Campaigns to Close Immunization Gap

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MSD joined the WHO campaign in Africa, which is focused on staying polio free.

The World Health Organization (WHO) hosted World Immunization Week, a global awareness campaign launched in 2012 and commemorated in the last week of April 2016, to promote the use of vaccines to help protect people from disease.

WHO hosted World Immunization Week in regions including the Western Pacific, Americas, Europe, and Africa. According to WHO, African Vaccination Week provided countries the opportunity to strengthen services and systems through advocacy, education, and communication tools.

According to an April 28, 2016 press announcement, Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), known as Merck & Co. Inc. in the United States and Canada, announced that it has joined the campaign in Africa. The theme for Africa’s immunization week is “Close the Immunization Gap. Stay Polio Free!”, MSD said in a press announcement. The theme marks the celebration of the polio eradication milestone that has been reached in Africa.

Africa has made several gains beyond increasing reach of immunization, and some diseases have been eliminated through wide-scale immunization programs. Vaccines are available in public vaccination programs in the majority of African countries, said MSD.


Diseases, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, are still present in the African region and may provide opportunities for immunization, MSD notes. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in Africa, MSD added. HPV, a sexually transmitted infection, is one of the most common causes of cervical pre-cancerous lesions and cancer. According to a WHO press announcement, in 2012, more than half a million new cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed worldwide with one in five being in sub-Saharan African.

Source: MSD, WHO