Statement by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark at the launch of European Immunization Week

23 April 2008

First lady, Regional Director, distinguished guests,

It was with pleasure that I accepted the invitation to say a few words on the occasion of the launch of the European Immunization Week – a week dedicated to strengthening immunization programmes and raising awareness of the benefits of vaccination throughout the European region.

As Patron of the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, I am committed, along with many others, to helping improve the health and well-being of the people of the European region. In particular those lacking access to basic medical services. 

Immunization saves lives.  Apart from safe drinking water, no other health intervention has reduced diseases and mortality as effectively and safely as immunization.  No child should suffer from illness, a lifelong disability or die due to vaccine-preventable diseases.

Immunization now reaches over 90% of the children in this region.  However, discrepancies in population groups still persist and a large number of unvaccinated children can be found in countries throughout the region.  These vulnerable or hard-to-reach children must be reached with life-saving vaccines.

Due to the achievements of immunization, incidences of dangerous vaccine preventable infections have declined leaving weakened fear of these diseases. Furthermore, many health care professionals and parents have no first hand experience with illnesses such as measles, diphtheria and pertussis.  As a result, continued advocacy and effective communication on the necessity of immunization remains crucial.

It is the right of every child to grow up healthy, and vaccinated against those diseases that can so easily be controlled. I hope that the countries within the region will act quickly and effectively to ensure that children and adults, especially those in vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups, have access to immunization and basic health services.

The importance of immunization cannot be underestimated.  The diversity of the region creates enormous challenges in your efforts to reach your common goal of increasing vaccination coverage.  I wish you and the region’s member states every success in achieving that goal.

Good luck and thank you.