Brazzaville, July 19, 2019 – As the Global Vaccine Action Plan GVAP) 2011-2020 nears its conclusion in 2020, a regional consultation was held this week by the WHO Regional Office for Africa to shape a new immunization strategy for the next decade with the aim that everyone, everywhere, at every age, fully benefits from vaccines for good health and well-being.
Inputs were shared by over 150 delegates ranging from governments, parliamentarians, regional economic communities, civil societies, development agencies and the private sector on the vision and direction of the Immunization Agenda 2030. Placing people at the heart of immunization and ensuring countries are the focal point of all strategies were highlighted as core principles to guide the development of the new immunization strategy.
“One in five African children still does not receive all the basic, necessary vaccines,” said Dr Joseph Caboré, Director for Programme Management at AFRO on behalf of the Regional Director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, during the opening session. “It has become clear that a new strategy for immunization is needed for the entire health and development community. One that draws on what we learnt from the past decade and prepares us for the challenges of the decade ahead,” he added.
Nearly a decade ago, countries endorsed GVAP, a framework to prevent millions of deaths by 2020 through more equitable access to vaccines. The African region adopted the Regional Strategic Plan for Immunization 2014-2020, which set ambitious targets, including eradicating polio, eliminating measles, and maintaining elimination or control of other vaccine-preventable diseases by 2020.
Since then the Region has made significant gains toward increasing access to immunization and is close to eliminating a few diseases, including maternal and neonatal tetanus, Meningitis A outbreaks and wild poliovirus, which once threatened the future of millions of children across Africa. Despite these successes, many countries in Africa still lag the rest of the world in achieving immunization targets.
This consultation will help develop an agenda that truly reflects the context, needs and challenges of the African Region – and ultimately, move closely to universal health coverage by ensuring access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential vaccines for all.
During the concluding sessions, delegates shared their thoughts on the ways forward, highlighting the need to increase national ownership in countries, ensure people are at the centre of any plans, and strong collaboration among partners.
“People-centered immunization programs mean knowing every child that needs to be vaccinated, where they are and how to meet their needs,” said Dr Chizoba Wonodi, a representative from civil society. She stressed the need for greater investments in high-quality data systems in order to achieve this vision.
Dr Francis N. Kateh, Deputy Minister of Health of Liberia, commented on the challenges ahead in addressing the most vulnerable. “If there is one thing Africa has to look at first, it is the disease burden. We have to be innovative in everything we do in order to reach that last child,” he said.
The outcome of this regional consultation will be incorporated into the global immunization strategy 2021-2030 for endorsement by Member States at the 73rd World Health Assembly in May 2020.