Routine vaccination coverage in low- and middle-income countries: further arguments for accelerating support to child vaccination services.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The Expanded Programme on Immunization was introduced by the World Health Organization (WHO) in all countries during the 1970s. Currently, this effective public health intervention is still not accessible to all. This study evaluates the change in routine vaccination coverage over time based on survey data and compares it to estimations by the WHO and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). DESIGN: Data of vaccination coverage of children less than 5 years of age was extracted from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) conducted in 71 low- and middle-income countries during 1986-2009. Overall trends for vaccination coverage of tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and measles were analysed and compared to WHO and UNICEF estimates. RESULTS: From 1986 to 2009, the annual average increase in vaccination coverage of the studied diseases ranged between 1.53 and 1.96% units according to DHS data. Vaccination coverage of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and measles was all under 80% in 2009. Non-significant differences in coverage were found between DHS data and WHO and UNICEF estimates. CONCLUSIONS: The coverage of routine vaccinations in low- and middle-income countries may be lower than that previously reported. Hence, it is important to maintain and increase current vaccination levels.