MP for Central Ayrshire, Dr Philippa Whitford, has launched a new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to promote greater uptake of childhood vaccinations in the UK and increase access to vaccination in developing countries.

The APPG on Vaccinations For All, of which Dr Whitford is Chair, will work on a cross-party basis, with support from organisations such as the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and developmental advocacy group Results UK, to look at ways of furthering progress in these areas.

The idea for the new APPG came following Dr Whitford’s visit to Ethiopia with a Parliamentary delegation in 2015.

The delegation saw first-hand the jointwork between non-governmental organisations, such as Results UK, and national and local Government partners, to ensure children across that vast rural country received anti polio and other vaccinations.

They were also able to see how this work is supported by the UK Government and other international donors.

Although vaccinations have almost eradicated once common childhood diseases, such as polio, only 7 per cent of children worldwide receive the full set of recommended childhood vaccinations.

Meanwhile, uptake across the UK has fallen due to the totally discredited claim that the MMR - Measles, Mumps & Rubella (German Measles) - vaccine left children with permanent side effects.

Vaccination levels in England have now dropped below the World Health Organisation (WHO) safe level which, in recent years, has led to outbreaks of measles which hadn’t been seen in the UK for a number of years. Many think of these diseases as trivial but all three are killers in the developing world.

Speaking after the launch, Dr Whitford said: “I was delighted to formally establish the APPG on Vaccinations For All. Vaccinations are the most cost effective health intervention in the world, preventing the spread of deadly diseases and saving millions of lives.

“As well as looking at how to increase access to vaccinations in developing countries, the new APPG will focus on promoting uptake of vaccinations in the UK which worryingly, in England, has dropped below World Health Organisation safety levels.

“The totally discredited scaremongering about MMR and other vaccines is at the root of lower uptake in the UK and has led to new outbreaks of once common diseases, leaving many young people with long-term complications.”