Vaccinations
NHS Choices

Around the world

What’s being done to fight vaccine-preventable diseases in developing countries

In the UK, routine childhood vaccinations are free and easily available to all children, no matter what their circumstances. Vaccination has been so successful that we now rarely see potentially deadly infections, such as diphtheria, polio and preventable types of meningitis.

However, children in developing countries who don't get vaccinated are still at risk of deadly infections. We know that successful vaccination programmes save thousands of lives, which is why organisations such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) are committed to making vaccines against measles, polio and other serious diseases, available to as many children as possible around the world.

Vaccination facts from around the world

  • 3 million children die every year from diseases that are entirely preventable
  • 30 million babies aren't able to get basic vaccinations each year
  • in almost 50 countries, nearly two-thirds (60%) of children are not vaccinated
  • a child in the developing world is 10 times more likely to die of a vaccine-preventable disease than a child in an industrialised nation

Protecting children

The GAVI Alliance (formerly The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) was formed in 1999, to ensure that every child in the world is protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. It also funds research into other child-killing diseases, such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

GAVI members include governments, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, the WHO, the vaccine industry represented by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA), The Rockefeller Foundation, The World Bank Group and research and public health institutions.

The good news about vaccination

Much success has been achieved by the GAVI Alliance already; 30 years ago, one in four children died before the age of five. Today, that number is one in 10. Almost 75% of the world’s children are now vaccinated against the six main killer diseases (measles, polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, tuberculosis and tetanus). The number of deaths from these diseases has more than halved since 1980.


Last Updated: 01/04/2017 09:00:00