Government of Canada

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada


Immunization is widely recognized as one of the best investments in health. Thanks to proven strategies, these investments can now benefit children and their families in the world's hardest-to-reach communities.

The World Health Organization (WHO) deems that immunization helps to prevent between two and three million deaths each year, as well as countless infectious diseases and disabilities. New vaccines against pneumococcal infections and diarrhea have the potential to save the lives of an additional million children each year.

© ACDI-CIDA/David Barbour
A health care worker examines a baby at a clinic in Ethiopia. Through CIDA's commitment to improve maternal, newborn and child health, the immunizations provided here help prevent potentially devastating childhood diseases.

By helping to prevent diseases with devastating consequences for children and their families, immunization allows everyone to lead a more productive life. In the long term, it stimulates sustainable economic growth in communities.

According to UNICEF, despite the progress seen in recent decades, nearly 23.5 million children—almost 20 percent of children born each year—have not yet been fully immunized or have not been immunized at all.

To reach these children, Canada has been working for several years in partnership with organizations that are experienced in immunization:

  • The GAVI Alliance is a public-private partnership that aims to save children's lives and to protect the health of communities by increasing access to immunization in poor countries. GAVI Alliance programming currently reaches 60 percent of the world's children.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) conducts important work in immunization standard setting, research, and development, as well as vaccine regulation. The WHO is also engaged in vaccine supply, immunization financing, and immunization-system strengthening. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a public-private partnership involving national governments, the WHO, Rotary International, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF. Since 1988 more than 2.5 billion children have been immunized against polio through this initiative, and the number of cases of polio per year has decreased by more than 99 percent.

By cooperating in international efforts to provide children in developing countries with the vaccines they need, Canada is helping to achieve the three Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that directly target health: reduce child mortality (MDG 4), improve maternal health (MDG 5), and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (MDG 6).

Canada's support for immunization programs is aligned with one of its development priority themes: securing the future of children and youth. These efforts are also aligned with its commitment to improve maternal, newborn and child health.

Consult the International Development Project Browser to find out more about these initiatives and other projects for the prevention of infectious diseases.