2014 Partners' Forum
30 JUNE - 1 JULY | Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa
Session 1C: Delivering Immunisation Together: Hitting the MDGs and health goals beyond 2015
At a session on immunisation at the Partners’ Forum co-hosted by GAVI Alliance, UNICEF, WHO and USAID, representatives from government, UN and multilateral agencies reflected on the huge success of vaccine programmes and the role of immunisation beyond 2015.
Immunisation is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions. Since the launch of the Expanded Programme of Immunization forty years ago, vaccine coverage rates have increased from 5 % to reaching over 80% of the world’s children with life-saving vaccines.
Anuradha Gupta, the recently appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the GAVI Alliance, explained that since 1980 vaccines have successfully reduced once common diseases such as diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, polio and tetanus by over 90%, despite a 58% increase in the world’s population during the same period.
Thanks to developments in scientific technology, the number of vaccines have grown.
“We’ve seen a transformed immunization programme with recommendations for the use of 22 vaccines, four times the number when the programme started in 1974,” said Dr. Okwo-Bele, Director IVAB/WHO. Powerful partnerships such as the GAVI Alliance, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and the PAHO Revolving Fund have driven implementation.
“The GAVI Alliance has immunised 440 million additional children and saved 6 million lives since its launch in 2000”, said Dr. Anuradha Gupta. Driving the acceleration is the reduction of vaccine prices. GAVI works to shape vaccine markets in order to make vaccines more affordable and sustainable for countries. Prices of rotavirus vaccine against diarrhoea and HPV vaccines against cervical cancer have dropped by two-thirds for countries eligible for GAVI support.
Country leadership underpins the success of immunisation programmes. Thanks to political will and leadership, Mali is on track to reach MDG 4. The nation has achieved high immunisation coverage and introduced new vaccines against, pneumonia and diarrhoea, the leading killer diseases of children under five. Hon. M. Ousmane Kone, Minister of Health, said immunisation is a priority for his government and this includes the investment of domestic resources. The budget for the purchase of vaccines grew from 3% to 10% in 5 years despite the challenges of the conflict. Katie Taylor, Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID congratulated Mali on its leadership and commitment to immunisation.
But despite progress, 1 in 5 children miss out on vaccines. Mickey Chopra, Chief of Health, UNICEF said that most developing countries are yet to achieve 80% vaccine coverage in all districts. Reach Every District is a strategy that aims to reduce bottlenecks and overcome barriers to increasing access and demand for immunisation.
The high reach of immunisation is the opportunity to deliver other essential interventions for women and children. Hon, Mrs. Emerin Kabanshi, Minister of Community Development, Mother & Child Health, and Zambia spoke of the successful integration of Vit A supplementation, de-worming into campaigns and routine immunisation services. Integration had proven to increase service demand as mothers saved time by getting more than one service at each visit.
Beyond 2015, country leadership and strong partnerships will drive new ambitious goals. The benefits of vaccines are clear: healthier children, better education outcomes, lower healthcare costs, healthier mothers, more productivity, and stronger economies.