With celebrations stretching across five continents, WHO’s World Immunization Week 2016 puts vaccines centre stage around the world.
For the Vaccine Alliance, this is a time to highlight the work of the individuals and organisations who day to day work to ensure no child misses out on life-saving vaccines.
Over the next week, we are dedicating each day to key immunisation themes, ranging from empowering health workers to taking action at community level.
Follow stories and blogs from our Alliance partners here and on Vaccineswork.
Friday: Expect the unexpected
Conflict attacks the systems that support the routines of daily life. Though rarely captured in news alerts, conflict also cripples health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene services. Access to life-saving immunization too often is a casualty of the breakdown of these essential systems. The result is that, during conflict, millions of children miss out on the basic vaccines they need to stay healthy and have a fair chance in life. Most often the children affected are the most vulnerable to disease.
Ebola may now finally be coming under control in Liberia, but the shadow it casts is long. During the outbreak, regular health services were suspended, including routine and campaign immunisation. Basic vaccination coverage in Liberia now stands at 50%, down from 80% in 2012. This leaves children exposed to preventable diseases such as measles, which is already plaguing neighbouring Sierra Leone.
Thurdsay: Celebrate success
The introduction of MenAfriVac® in 2010 via mass vaccination campaigns has had an immediate and dramatic impact in breaking the cycle of Group A meningococcal epidemics. MenAfriVac® is the first vaccine to be developed specifically for Africa. In the years since its first introduction into Burkina Faso, more than 230 million people have been immunized across the meningitis belt and meningitis A has virtually disappeared wherever the vaccine has been used.
A Johns Hopkins University study on the economic value of vaccines has confirmed what donors and policy makers have long suspected -- immunisation is one of the best buys in public health.
Findings show that for every dollar invested in immunisation over the decade of vaccines, there is a US$16 return.
Wednesday: Polio - finish the job
Gavi, the global Vaccine Alliance, plays an important role in saving lives worldwide. As World Immunisation Week is observed, Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, spoke with Bachi Karkaria about the importance of vaccinating children, a great success of India’s immunisation programme – and also the powerful irony of its pharma industry producing 55% of Gavi’s global vaccines but only 65.4% of India’s children receiving this protection.
In Nigeria, where no case of polio has been found since July 2014, the government is leapfrogging on the lessons learned by the polio eradication programme to make strides forward to strengthen the equity and sustainability of routine immunisation.
Tuesday: invest in innovation
“Who has saved the most lives in human history? Claims can be made for various scientific pioneers and political leaders, but few are as strong as that of Edward Jenner, inventor of the world’s first successful vaccine — for smallpox.
That innovation alone has, by some estimates, prevented more than 500m deaths since the English doctor first tested it on his gardener’s eight-year-old son in 1796. But that number is many times greater when all the other vaccines that flowed from his breakthrough are included.
Gavi’s Alan Brooks explains how the launch of a new Centre of Excellence for vaccines, immunisation and health supply chain management in Rwanda will drive the modernisation of immunisation supply chains across East Africa.
Monday: Empowering health workers
“Keep this immunisation card safe and remember to take it to the health facility on your next visit. In all you will have to make six visits to the health facility and your child will be protected from the nine diseases.” says Rizwana Yasmeen as she explains the schedule to a young mother at the Basic Health Unit (BHU) in Mirpurkhas.
Explaining the importance of vaccination to parents, especially mothers is vital for the success of Pakistan’s immunisation programme.
“Anuradha Gupta, Gavi's Deputy CEO, gets the inside track at a health clinic in Pakistan: "A young mother told me that her first child was not vaccinated until she, on a friend’s advice, came to get a tetanus shot during her second pregnancy. Only then was she informed about child vaccination and its benefits. It was clear that Nusarat would not talk about these personal issues unless it was to a woman who seemed friendly and supportive."
Sunday: Spreading the word
Throughout the next 7 days, we’ll be highlighting 7 ways to improve child health – one for each day of the week – focusing on vaccine successes, progress and opportunities to improve vaccination coverage rates. Below we outline seven ways to help ensure that every child, no matter where they’re born, gets an equal shot at a healthy life.
Reaching nomadic communities is a challenging task for Ethiopia’s vaccinators. With families constantly on the move searching for water and fresh pasture for their cattle, health workers have to go out and look for their patients.
Now, in the remote region of Afar, PATH and Gavi are testing a new solution to an age-old problem: empowering community leaders to spread the word and help parents bring their children to get vaccinated, rather than the other way around.