The United Nations World Health Organization today warned that progress towards global vaccination targets for 2015 is “far off track,” with one in five children still missing out on routine life-saving immunizations that could avert 1.5 million deaths each year from preventable diseases.

The warning comes as many countries worldwide have experienced large measles outbreaks in the past year, threatening efforts to achieve the global target of eliminating measles in three regions by the end of this year. “It is critical that the global community now makes a collective and cohesive effort to put progress towards our six targets back on track,” Dr. Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General, Family, Women’s and Children’s Health said just ahead of World Immunization Week, which runs from 24 to 30 April.

World Immunization Week creates a focused global platform to reinvigorate our collective efforts to ensure vaccination for every child, whoever they are and wherever they live,” the WHO doctor was quoted as saying in a press releaseissued today in Geneva, where the UN health agency is headquartered.

WHO noted that nearly 22 million infants in 2013 missed out on the required three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis-containing vaccines (DTP3), many of them living in the world’s poorest countries, and called “for an end to the unnecessary disability and death caused by failure to vaccinate.”

All 194 WHO member States at the World Health Assembly endorsed in 2012 theGlobal Vaccine Action Plan, a commitment to ensure that no one misses out on vital immunization, but a new independent assessment report on progress rings an alarm bell, warning that vaccines are not being delivered equitably or reliably.

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