Strategies To Boost Maternal Immunization To Achieve Further Gains In Improved Maternal And Newborn Health
Author: Mark R. Steedman, Beate Kampmann, Egbert Schillings, Hanan Al Kuwari, Ara Darzi
Despite the indisputable successes of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which include goals on improving maternal health and reducing child mortality, millions of mothers and newborns still die tragically and unnecessarily each year. Many of these deaths result from vaccine-preventable diseases, since obstacles such as cost and accessibility have hampered efforts to deliver efficacious vaccines to those most in need. Additionally, many vaccines given to mothers and children under age five are not suitable for newborns, since their maturing immune systems do not respond optimally during the first few months of life. Maternal immunization—the process by which a pregnant woman’s immune system is fortified against a particular disease and the protection is then transferred to her unborn child—has emerged as a strategy to prevent many unnecessary maternal and newborn deaths. We review vaccines that are already used for maternal immunization, analyze vaccines under development that could be used for maternal immunization strategies in the future, and recommend that policy makers use maternal immunization for improved maternal and newborn health.