Boosting Child Vaccination Rates in Developing Countries

Results of a multi-country research project explain why some children in developing countries are not receiving vaccines. The research also shows how targeted, low-cost interventions can increase vaccination rates, at times doubling or tripling the odds of children being vaccinated.

“These research results show that actual vaccination rates are much lower than what is being reported nationally in developing countries. We are calling this effect the Fallacy of Coverage. The studies also tell us, that despite the lower than expected coverage, we can get every child vaccinated and vaccinated on time,” explained Sharmila Mhatre, senior program specialist at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

The 13 research articles are being published by BioMed Central’s International Health and Human Rights journal, with funding from the Canadian International Immunization Initiative Phase 2. They are based on research conducted from South Asia to West Africa.

In Pakistan, researchers found that discussions with communities about the costs and benefits of getting their children vaccinated can actually increase immunization rates. In India, the study found that girls have lower immunization coverage rates than boys, and therefore that tackling broader social inequities is key to making sure young girls get immunized. In Burkina Faso, children are not being immunized even though the father has given permission to do so. The study from this country helps to show how this can be changed.

"Each year millions of children do not benefit from the most basic infant vaccines and remain exposed to life-threatening diseases that could be prevented,” said Dr Philippe Duclos, Senior Health Adviser, Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at the World Health Organization. “Understanding the reasons for the lack of vaccination and finding innovative ways to reach the unreached and expand immunization is essential and operational research projects such as these are needed to this effect."

Immunization can and does save lives, contributing to reducing child mortality rates. What the results of these research projects confirm is the fact that if resources are well targeted and based on evidence, they can have a huge impact on children’s lives.

This five-year research initiative was launched in September 2003 as part of a larger program funded by the Canadian International Development Agency and as part of the Global Health Research Initiative. Six research teams covering 12 countries were selected for funding: IDRC provided the technical oversight and administered the grants.

For more information about the project and the participating institutions and researchers, please contact:

Sharmila Mhatre
Senior Program Specialist
Governance, Equity and Health
International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
PO Box 8500, Ottawa, ON K1G 3H9
(613) 696-2264
[email protected]

Published: 02 Nov 2009

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Websites: The research articles are available on this link