Vaccines critical for controlling chronic diseases

Vaccines are a vital part of controlling non-communicable diseases (NCDs) around the world, even though most shots are designed to prevent illnesses that can be passed from person-to-person. That's according to health experts who spoke at a recent U.N. General Assembly summit on NCDs.

"A number of what we call NCDs turn out to be infectious diseases. About 20% of cancer is actually caused by infectious agents.  We've had a lot of success getting rid of hepatitis B, which is the largest cause of liver cancer and we are hoping with the...[HPV vaccine] to be able to get rid of cervical cancer," noted GAVI Alliance CEO Seth Berkley. Increased vaccine access worldwide is one way to prevent many NCDs, but other risk factors--like obesity, heart conditions, diabetes and many cancers--will have to be dealt with in other ways.

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PLUS: Every year more than 2 million kids die before the age of 5 due to vaccine-preventable diseases. In an effort to further protect children from preventable diseases (and, in the long run, NCDs) the GAVI Alliance announced this week it would commit $3.4 billion over the next four years for rotavirus and pneumonia vaccines for children in 37 developing countries. Of the countries targeted by the funding, two dozen are in Africa. News