Written by By Karel Janicek, CNN
South Africa has a vaccine rate of 68%, according to new data released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). That makes it the top African country in terms of immunization coverage. By comparison, Sudan has a vaccine rate of just 37%.
UNICEF has now published the first Global Vaccine Index, an annual health data report that highlights which countries have the highest vaccination coverage. The index found that Sri Lanka is the top country overall, followed by Israel and the United States. The lowest average immunization coverage was recorded in Afghanistan, where just 1% of children in the country are fully vaccinated.
While major African countries are not in the top ten, African countries also do not seem to do any better. Sudan has the lowest immunization coverage on the continent, behind countries such as Chad, Ghana and Djibouti.
Myrna Lomax, UNICEF’s regional director for South and West Africa, said the statistics highlighted “the urgency of reaching all children with vital immunization services at an early age.”
“They also highlight the importance of investing in prevention efforts, where progress is most likely,” she said.
UNICEF data said that 54 million babies across the world are not fully vaccinated, and that two million children die each year in an effort to prevent such deaths. Vaccine-preventable diseases are among the world’s leading causes of death in children.