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International Conference Debates Vaccination Policy in Developing Countries

July 14, 2006

The Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children’s Hospital, the nation’s first center dedicated solely to the study of research and health care for children, kicked off its second annual conference on Friday, July 14, 2006 in Seattle.

Experts in the Field Discuss Global Health Ethics and Implications for Children

The Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children’s Hospital, the nation’s first center dedicated solely to the study of research and health care for children, kicked off its second annual conference on Friday, July 14, 2006 in Seattle.

Highlights

Daniel Wikler, PhD, Harvard School of Public Health, discussed the growing popularity of global health. Even President Bush pledged funds through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a five-year, $15 billion dollar initiative.

Wikler believes that part of this growing trend is due to the fact the global health issues appeal to people regardless of political or religious affiliations.

Other topics included:

Who has a responsibility to treat children in poor countries? Should children of all countries receive the same medical treatment as those in the United States?

A former World Health Organization ethicist, Wikler warns that medical decisions that appear “moral” can actually be life threatening. When it comes to vaccinating children, there is no one right answer. The economic situation and risk factors here in the United States are not the same as in other countries.

Wikler discussed the new cervical cancer vaccine, global access, and the impact of poverty on making the decision of who should receive that vaccine.

In her presentation on the development of Rotavirus vaccine, Laine Friedman Ross, MD, PhD, University of Chicago, commented on the imbalance between development and distribution of vaccines.

“We need to ask why less than 10% of medical research funds are spent on diseases that account for 90% of the global burden of disease,” prompted Ross. “There is little incentive to create vaccines for use only in the developing world, such as vaccines for TB, malaria and cholera.”

The conference continues tomorrow with a focus on vaccine hesitancy and parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. For more information on the conference, or to view a live webcast, visit the conference website.

The Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children’s Hospital, the nation’s first center dedicated solely to the study of research and health care for children, is hosting its second annual conference on July 14 - 15, 2006 in Seattle.

The conference features national experts leading discussions on vaccine policy, availability and research. Conference participants offer viewpoints on issues ranging from a parent’s right not to immunize their child to a physician’s right to “fire” a non-immunized patient.

Childhood vaccinations against a multitude of infectious agents have been hailed as one of the most important health interventions of the 20th century. Vaccinations have eradicated smallpox infection worldwide and polio in North America.

Pediatric immunizations are responsible for preventing millions of childhood deaths each year. Despite this success, some parts of the world have not benefited as much from vaccine development and delivery. Even in the United States, where most children have access to effective vaccines, some parents are reluctant to vaccinate their children.

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About Seattle Children's Hospital

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Children’s has been delivering superior patient care and advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit http://www.seattlechildrens.org.

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