Historic Commitment from African Heads of State to Advance Immunization in Africa

31 JANUARY 2017 | ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA

African Heads of State have made a historic commitment to universal access to immunization by endorsing the Addis Declaration on Immunization (ADI), a landmark commitment and timely pledge to ensure that everyone in Africa – regardless of who they are or where they live – receives the full benefits of immunization.

While Africa has made impressive gains over the last 15 years toward increasing access to immunization, progress has stagnated, and the continent is falling behind on meeting global immunization targets. One in five children in Africa still does not receive basic life-saving vaccines and, as a result, vaccine-preventable diseases continue to claim too many lives. Measles alone accounts for approximately 61,000 preventable deaths in the African region every year.

“Vaccines are among the most effective public health tools available. When children are given a healthy start, communities thrive and economies grow stronger. This show of support from Heads of State is a significant step forward in our efforts to achieve universal access to immunization and, ultimately, improve child health and drive sustainable development across Africa.”

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa

The Addis Declaration on Immunization calls for countries to increase political and financial investments in their immunization programmes. It includes 10 commitments, including increasing vaccine-related funding, strengthening supply chains and delivery systems, and making universal access to vaccines a cornerstone of health and development efforts.

In response to the endorsement, outgoing African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma noted, “We know that universal access to immunization is achievable. The Addis Declaration on Immunization is a historic pledge. With political support at the highest levels, we are closer than ever to ensuring that all children in Africa have an equal shot at a healthy and productive life.”

“Vaccines are among the most effective public health tools available,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “When children are given a healthy start, communities thrive and economies grow stronger. This show of support from Heads of State is a significant step forward in our efforts to achieve universal access to immunization and, ultimately, improve child health and drive sustainable development across Africa.”

The endorsement was issued during the 28th African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

What they said

“As long as even one child in Africa lacks access to immunization, our work remains unfinished. With the right mix of political will, financial resources and technical acumen, Africa can – and will – stem the tide of vaccine-preventable diseases across the continent.”

Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

“Immunization is one of the smartest investments a country can make in its future. We must do more to protect all our children from preventable diseases – not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it makes economic sense. When our children are healthy, our families, communities and countries thrive.”

H.E. Professor Yifru Berhan Mitke, Ethiopia’s Minister of Health. “

“African leaders are showing outstanding leadership by endorsing this landmark commitment which will allow more African children to be reached with life-saving vaccines no matter where they live. We must now ensure that the commitments translate into sustainable financing for immunization. Gavi stands ready to support African countries in their efforts to implement equitable health approaches and maintain strong immunization coverage so we can create together a more prosperous future for communities across our continent.”

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance board.