Diphtheria, Pertussis (a.k.a. Whooping Cough) and Tetanus (DPT) are three separate bacterial infections that can each cause a myriad of health problems. The ‘DPT’ trio is a serious threat to health, and as such vaccinations against all three are often given in a combination does. Indeed, low immunization against the combined threats of the DPT three is often an indicator of low healthcare infrastructure development and/or a low level of national awareness for health concerns. As some countries hit a near perfect score in the immunization of their children against DPT, others lag far behind, with some nations’ rates falling below the 50% mark. Most of the countries that are most greatly affected are those with low- and middle-income economies.
There are many reasons that can cause countries to have such low percentages when it comes to DPT immunization rates among the very young. The most common cause is a lack of sufficient funds to sustain a quality healthcare system, which then denies millions of people access to basic healthcare services. Another reason can be due to a lack of political commitment to ensuring that every citizen has access to good and affordable healthcare. This can include failure to set funds aside for efforts ranging from building hospitals to carrying out routine immunization exercises. Political instability in a country, such as that caused by extended military or civil conflicts, often leads to a lack of basic services in healthcare, because many prospective doctors and nurses will opt to seek employment elsewhere instead of risking their lives to work in a line of work that not only recompenses them with low incomes, but also often puts their lives at a high risk as well. Contrarily, a more peaceful country will have more time and resources to focus on the things that matter most to its citizenry, healthcare included. Due to inadequate business infrastructure, many investors who could invest their finances as healthcare capital in such troubled nations generally will shy away from doing so, and move their affairs to more stable regions instead.
Factors Contributing to Low DPT Immunization Rates
In a badly managed government’s economic practices, such as those where corruption is rampant and stealing of public funds can be the order of the day, the rate of immunization is bound to be low because healthcare is not prioritized by the government. Somalia and South Sudan, for instance, have each experienced prolonged civil wars which have taken attention away from important issues, like building national infrastructure and better healthcare systems. Somalia is also faced with the constant threat of terrorism, which makes investing in basic infrastructure very difficult. The same is seen in the case of Middle Eastern countries like Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic, and many of the African countries who have lagged behind in the immunization of children against DPT because of such factors as well. Most of these economies are characterized by low average incomes, wealth distribution inequalities, and having small middle classes. On the other hand, Nigeria and South Africa, despite having two of the largest economies in Africa, have low rates of immunization of children against DPT, largely due to a lack of government initiative to achieve high numbers of their children being immunized against these preventable diseases.
Immunization Outlooks for those Lagging Behind
It is common to see countries that are war-torn or politically unstable to have very low rates of immunization against DPT as well. Political commitment is very important in enhancing the delivery of health services to citizens. Low income economies are also faced with the never ending challenge of lacking personal funds for healthcare, further worsened by governmental limitations in financing the construction of healthcare facilities and the consistent carrying out of routine immunization exercises. Some problems, like civil wars and terrorism, are difficult to quickly remedy because they have so many contributing factors in need of consideration and resolution. Lack of political goodwill, on the other hand, can be solved by proper governance actions, and bureaucratic structures that promote accountability. As long as such issues remain unresolved, many of the countries with the lowest rates of immunization against DPT for their young children may remain in the same state for some time to come.
Countries With The Lowest DPT Immunization Rates
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|Rank||Country||Rate of DPT Immunization (%)|
|1||Equatorial Guinea||24 %|
|2||South Sudan||39 %|
|6||Central African Republic||47 %|
|10||Papua New Guinea||62 %|
|14||Cote d'Ivoire||67 %|
|18||South Africa||70 %|