Increased investments in immunization needed to reach global goals
20 May 2011 - Fifty-five speakers ― including country delegates, partners such as UNICEF and the GAVI Alliance, as well as five civil society organizations meeting at the 64th World Health Assembly ― took the floor in massive support of the Global Immunization Vision and Strategy and its impact in guiding national immunization strategies to reach child survival goals. The immunization agenda item was debated over five hours by delegates from WHO's 193 Member States and elicited the highest number of interventions on technical and health matters reviewed so far at this year's Health Assembly.
Several countries spoke of their achievements in: increasing immunization coverage; reaching more children with existing vaccines; eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus; reducing measles cases and deaths; using new vaccines against diarrhoea and pneumonia thanks to innovative financing; and implementing advocacy events such as the regional immunization weeks to highlight the importance of vaccines and immunization in saving lives.
But several complex challenges need to be addressed by countries and the international community including:
- mobilizing more resources to strengthen national immunization programmes and calling for increased support from the GAVI Alliance and other donors;
- ensuring a balanced approach towards competing priorities such as strengthening immunization systems, introducing new vaccines and eradicating polio;
- preventing a resurgence of measles through high vaccination coverage to reach the 2015 target of 95% measles mortality reduction and with the eventual goal of eradicating the disease;
- facilitating vaccine technology transfer to developing countries and promoting strategies to bring down vaccine prices; and
- strengthening surveillance for vaccine-preventable diseases.
Member States commended WHO's leadership on the Decade of Vaccines, a vision for using the next 10 years to achieve immunization goals and reach important milestones in vaccine research, development, financing and public support. There was strong backing for the objectives proposed by WHO and UNICEF to improve delivery of immunization services in the next decade. Member States request that countries and relevant stakeholders are involved in the consultation process in developing the global vaccine action plan.
Other immunization-related topics for discussion by delegates at the Health Assembly include the control and prevention of cholera, managing the potential risks to polio eradication and access to influenza vaccines as a benefit of sharing of virus strains.
- Global Immunization Vision and Strategy. Report by the Secretariat
- Decade of vaccine collaboration
- Improving family and community health: core to achieving Millennium Development Goals
- Cholera: mechanism for control and prevention. Report by the Secretariat
- Progress report on poliomyelitis: mechanism for management of potential risks to eradication
- Pandemic influenza preparedness: sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits. Report by the Open-Ended Working Group of Member States