Brussels (dpa) - Falling vaccination rates threaten the lives of children in many countries.
"In Europe, children die from preventable diseases," said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a vaccination summit in Brussels. All countries must fight more against false information and vaccination skepticism, said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis called for compulsory vaccination in countries with declining immunization coverage. "If you look at the epidemiological picture and see that you have no chance for a rapid comprehensive vaccination, it should make it mandatory," said Andriukaitis the German Press Agency in Brussels. Children have the right to live, one can not ignore that. "If parents do not understand that, we have to ask ourselves who takes responsibility. Of course, the parliament is responsible and the government. »
The WHO has been raising the alarm for a long time, among other things because of worldwide rising measles cases. In the Europe region, around 90,000 cases were registered in the first half of 2019. That was already more than the 84,462 cases throughout 2018.
Too many people are mistaken that vaccines cause disease instead of preventing it, said Juncker. Even the misconception that pharmaceutical companies advertise for profit greed for vaccinations, was common. In contrast, it must be fought. "We need to restore confidence in vaccinations and everyone has to join in," he said.
"Vaccination is one of the most important inventions in the history of medicine," said WHO chief Tedros. An experimental Ebola vaccine is helping Congo to stem the spread of the deadly disease. For tests in Africa there is now a vaccine against malaria.
Tedros called for more investment in new vaccines and more aid to reach out to children in remote conflict or disaster areas with life-saving vaccines. "The poorest and the most deprived run the greatest risk of going out," he said. "Vaccinations break a vicious circle that keeps children trapped in poverty."