One in five children in Africa does not receive basic life-saving vaccines, resulting to the loss of many lives to vaccine-preventable diseases.
The World Health Organisation says while Africa has made gains in the last 15 years, toward increasing access to immunisation, progress has stagnated, and the continent is falling behind on meeting global immunisation targets.
The organisation therefore charged African leaders to commit to funding immunisation to save lives in the region.
Heeding the call, heads of state across Africa have pledged to ensure everyone in the region has access to immunisation.
They made the pledge at the 28th African Union (AU) summit in Ethiopia.
The leaders adopted a declaration on universal access to immunisation in Africa and endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunization.
The call is coming at a time when UNICEF announced an outbreak of measles in hard to access areas in Nigeria’s north-east region.
The north-east has witnessed a major crisis in the past seven years.
Measles alone accounts for approximately 61,000 preventable deaths in Africa, including Nigeria, and fewer than 15 African countries fund more than percent off their national immunisation programmes.
The Addis declaration on immunisation calls for countries to increase political and financial investments in their immunisation 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.
The Addis declaration was signed by ministers of health and other line ministers at the ministerial conference on immunization in Africa (MCIA) in February 2016.
“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,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, chair of Gavi, the vaccine alliance board.
“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.”
Source: The Cable