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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Parents must vaccinate children, medical congress hears

It is believed 1.5 million childhood deaths have been prevented globally, and polio has been eradicated from the UAE thanks to the vaccination programme.

DUBAI // The importance of childhood vaccinations and treatment for rare diseases were key topics on the opening day of the Arab Paediatric Medical Congress in Dubai on Thursday.

The event attracted 500 international and regional professionals and experts to discuss the latest developments in their field and vaccination success stories.

Polio case numbers globally have fallen by 99 per cent since 1988 from an estimated 350,000 cases to just 74 reported in 2015.

It is believed 1.5 million childhood deaths have been prevented, and polio has been eradicated from the UAE thanks to the vaccination programme.

“In some countries they are not giving all of these vaccines,” said Fatma Sultan Al Olama, consultant and head of child healthcare at Dubai Health Authority.

“In the UAE, we have a full schedule as there are so many people from so many countries so there is more chance of an infection.

“It is so important to vaccinate our kids.”

Two doses of the measles vaccine, MMR, are given at age 12 months and 18 months as part of the national immunisation schedule.

Between 2000 and 2015, worldwide measles vaccinations resulted in a 79 per cent drop in related deaths, with an estimated 20.3 million lives saved.

About 80 per cent of the 7,000 distinct rare diseases existing worldwide are caused by faulty genes. Nearly half of those affected are children, making rare diseases one of the most deadly and debilitating for children worldwide.

“It is crucial paediatricians continuously learn from each other to be able to provide the best treatment possible to children,” said Dr George Mazariegos, chief of paediatric transplantation at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

nwebster@thenational.ae