Vaccines’ Important Role in Improving Quality of Life

Vaccines’ Important Role in Improving Quality of Life

05.23.14 | By Mark Grayson

Through innovative immunization practices, smallpox has been eradicated, polio and measles have nearly been eradicated and diseases like hepatitis A and B and some forms of cancer have been prevented. Vaccines have profoundly impacted patient health, and while their success has been life altering for millions of people around the world, there is still progress to be made.

A recent Vox article highlighted a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) that charted advances in global life expectancy. Between 1990 and 2012, the average global lifespan increased six years. Women are now expected to live an average of 72.7 years and men are expected to live an average of 68.1 years. While this is great progress, the article notes that to continue to increase the global life expectancy, getting vaccines to patients around the world is crucial.

To help address this issue, biopharmaceutical companies have provided more than $9.2 billion in direct assistance to health care in Africa, Asia and Latin America over the past decade. This includes donations of vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and equipment, as well as other materials and labor. Biopharmaceutical companies also delivered more than one billion treatments for neglected tropical disease (NTD) patients around the world in 2012 alone and are currently meeting 100 percent of requests received for medicines needed to treat NTDs. These conditions, which include viruses like rabies and certain bacterial diseases, affect more than an estimated one billion people worldwide and are prevalent in more than 149 countries.

In addition to providing patients with the treatments they need, PhRMA’s member companies are also working to develop innovative, new vaccines to help patients. Currently, there are nearly 300 vaccines in the pipeline, 137 of which deal directly with infectious diseases such as malaria and HIV.

The WHO report serves as a reminder that there is still much work to be done. Providing patients around the world with the medicines they need to live longer, healthier lives is our top priority, and we are committed to working with stakeholders to ensure that vaccines and life-saving treatments reach those who need them the most.

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