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By Godfrey Olukya  24-4-2014 

 

Merck Sharp and Dolme, (MSD) a Medicine company based in USA , reiterates today its support to the World Immunization Week, an annual initiative launched by World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners to celebrate and promote immunization through acts of raising awareness, education and communication.

MSD in the United States and Canada is a global health leader, committed to help the world live better. MSD is a commercial name of Merck & Co., Inc., the headquarters of which are located in Whitehouse Station, NJ, United States.

This year, the African Vaccination Week will be celebrated from 22 to 27 April under the theme –“Vaccination – a shared responsibility”.  It aims at highlighting the role and importance of everyone to fight against the vaccine-preventable diseases such as pertussis, measles, tetanus, diphtheria, influenza, rotavirus diarrhea, pneumonia, viral hepatitis and cancers associated with HPV (cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancers).

The efficacy of vaccines and their impact on public health are no longer questioned. They have contributed to the prevention of more than 25 circulating infectious diseases and have allowed avoiding a large number of long-term handicaps.

Likewise, the number of spared deaths each year is estimated at about 2 to 3 millions every year  thanks to immunization. However, despite the progress in Africa, many challenges remain. The advantages of vaccination should be extended beyond children to include teenagers and adults, hence to provide protection against deadly diseases such as , meningitis, diarrhea  or even cancers associated with HPV (cervical cancer and ano-genital cancers). In Africa, a woman dies every 8 hours because of cancer, deaths that we can avoid today thanks to early immunization.

Human Papillomaviruses (HPV) are viruses that are quite common as they may infect skin and mucous membranes 4. Researchers distinguish more than 100 genotypes of papillomavirus, of which 40 may infect genitals and 13 are recognized as oncogenes .

HPV infection is one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Infections.At least half of sexually active individuals encounter HPV during their lifetime. Any sexual contact is associated with a risk of infection4. Having a cutaneous and mucosal transmissive nature, HPV infection might occur despite condom use; hence vaccination proves to be important.

The World Immunization Week is the perfect occasion to shed light on the tremendous progress achieved in terms of immunization and to draw attention to cancers induced by viral infections such as HPV infections (uterus and vulva cancers) which can be henceforth prevented rather than cured. Likewise, it is an opportunity to stress the importance of integrating such type of vaccines in our national public health programs.

“MSD is proud to support World Immunization Week in Africa, which provides an important opportunity to raise awareness about the public health impact of vaccination,” said Dr. Soren Bo Christiansen, President of MSD’s Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

Vaccines are one of the greatest public health stories in history, and MSD has played its part in that story. For more than 50 years, our scientists have helped prevent now-rare diseases such as measles and mumps, as well as diseases never thought preventable such as shingles and cervical cancer. Our commitment to protecting human health by ensuring availability and accessibility of vaccines is vital to our mission as a company.”

With the participation of more than 180 countries, territories and regions around the globe, the World Immunization Week aims at issuing a reminder that vaccines help fight a large number of infectious diseases and  calls for action to improve immunization coverage for all age individuals.

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