Johannesburg forum brings together leading experts in maternal and child health
Johannesburg, 1 July, 2014 - The impact of immunisation on women’s and children’s health in the world’s poorest countries was brought to the fore by the GAVI Alliance’s new DCEO, Anuradha Gupta, at the Partners’ Forum 2014 in Johannesburg.
Mrs Gupta outlined the progress that developing countries have made in protecting their children against vaccine-preventable diseases with GAVI-supported vaccines, and pointed to the importance of improving coverage and equity to ensure children benefit from the power of immunisation no matter where they live.
Accelerating progress together
The Partners’ Forum, organised by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, opened with a speech by Graça Machel, wife of the late Nelson Mandela. Mrs Machel thanked delegates for their support following her husband’s death last year, and challenged them to accelerate progress on improving maternal and child health.
Partners and countries discussed the vital role of vaccine programmes in improving maternal and child health, and achieving beyond the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) during the session, Delivering Immunization Together: Hitting the MDGs and Health Goals Beyond 2015. Hosted by GAVI, USAID, WHO, UNICEF, the session was co-chaired by Dr Jean-Marie Okwo Bele, Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals of the WHO, and Katie Taylor, Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID.
Hon. M. Ousmane Kone, Minister of Health of Mali, said immunisation is a priority for his country, and that strong political will and leadership had led to significant growth in the investment of domestic resources into immunisation. Zambian Minister of Community Development, Mother & Child Health Mrs. Emerine Kabanshi spoke of the successful integration of the delivery of Vit A supplementation, de-worming and bed nets into immunisation services. She added that integration had increased service demand as mothers saved time by getting more than one service at each visit.
Mickey Chopra, UNICEF Chief of Health, showcased research into bottlenecks that hinder countries’ progress on reaching immunisation to all children, no matter where they live. He highlighted state and district level data collection in India that has led to a clearer understanding of barriers to immunisation.