The widespread introduction of vaccines has prevented more than a million children dying from two of the deadliest childhood diseases, new research has found.
The study, by researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, found that 1.45 million fewer children under five died from infections caused by the pneumococcus and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) bacteria, largely thanks to the introduction of vaccines in low income countries.
The pneumococcus bacteria alone is responsible for 11 per cent of early childhood deaths and is, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the leading vaccine-preventable cause of death among infants and children under five.
The research, which focused on the countries where deaths from these two diseases are most prevalent, found that falls in mortality were greater after vaccines were introduced. Deaths from pneumococcus fell by 51 per cent, while deaths from Hib were down 90 per cent.
The researchers say that the findings provide valuable evidence to encourage countries to introduce childhood vaccination programmes.