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Heard at #WHA68: Closing the immunization gap

Kristen Kelleher, Policy Communications Team Leader at PATH.

At the end of May, PATH joined health leaders from around the world at the 68th World Health Assembly (WHA) to discuss how to close the global immunization gap.

Today, one out of every five children is still not protected against vaccine-preventable diseases like diphtheria, pertussis, and hepatitis. Low routine immunization coverage highlights the urgency for new solutions to reach and protect every child.

The Decade of Vaccines, 2011-2020, is a global timeline to expand access to immunization to all people, no matter where they live. As we approach the midpoint of this decade, experts are raising concerns about the lack of progress toward achieving global coverage targets.

On the sidelines of the WHA, immunization experts met with country leaders to grapple with the question: how do we get back on track to close the global immunization gap?

PATH was there to capture this important conversation.

What the experts and leaders said:

What must be done to close the immunization gap and make sure every child has access to vaccines?

What are some of the key challenges countries face as they aim to strengthen their vaccine systems?

How would you advise policymakers on how to improve access to immunization?

Thanks to our contributors:

Amy Dietterich, Gavi Civil Society Constituency Coordinator and Senior Officer, International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies

Dr. Assad Hafeez, Director General for Health, Pakistan Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination

Dr. Attaya Limwattanayingyong, Chief of Vaccine Preventable Diseases Section, Department of Disease Control, Thailand Ministry of Public Health

Dr. Chris Elias, President of the Global Development Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Dr. Jean-Marie Okwo-Bel, Director, World Health Organization Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

Nina Schwalbe, Principal Advisor for Health, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

Dr. Rebecca Martin, Director of the Global Immunization Division in the Center for Global Health, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

As the leader of global health innovation, PATH works with public and private partners to save lives by creating partnerships that expand access to existing vaccines, drive the development of new ones, and improve technology so vaccines are delivered safely and effectively. Learn more about PATH at

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