On the eve of the World Health Assembly’s endorsement of the Global Vaccine Action Plan, officials from developing country health ministries, civil society organisations and multilateral agencies attended a Decade of Vaccines Collaboration reception in Geneva to welcome the Plan.
Geneva, 25 May 2012 – Health officials from 194 countries endorsed a landmark immunisation strategy on Friday to prevent millions of deaths by 2020.
The Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) aims to strengthen routine immunisation, accelerate control of vaccine-preventable disease, introduce new and improved vaccines, and spur research and development for the next generation of vaccines and technologies.
“The Global Vaccine Action Plan recognizes the powerful role vaccines can and do play to improve children’s and women’s health,” Helen Evans, Deputy CEO of the GAVI Alliance, told officials during discussion of the plan at the 65th World Health Assembly.
“GAVI supports this plan, and GAVI’s programmes are central to its success,” she added.
Polio eradication is the first milestone for control of vaccine-preventable disease and the plan is expected to accelerate the achievement of UN MDG4, a two thirds reduction in child mortality between 1990 and 2015.
The world must prepare for polio eradication, Ms Evans said.
“The IPV vaccines in development may represent an exciting opportunity for investment given the most recent progress,” she added, referring to the inactivated polio vaccine used to prevent a return of polio in regions that do not have wild poliovirus.
The Global Vaccine Action Plan recognizes the powerful role vaccines can and do play to improve children’s and women’s health
Helen Evans, Deputy CEO of the GAVI Alliance
Thanks to the strong support of GAVI eligible countries and donor generosity at a pledging conference nearly one year ago, GAVI will support countries to immunisation an additional 245 million children by 2015, beyond the 325 million immunised since GAVI was founded in 2000.
“This is an example of how funds invested in cost efficient, proven interventions can make real impact,” Ms Evans said.
Ms Evans noted GAVI’s support for the pentavalent, pneumococcal, and rotavirus vaccines and said she looked forward to supporting developing countries with introductions of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and combined measles-rubella vaccines.
“I’d like to congratulate the Member States here today in our joint effort to accelerate the uptake of new and underused vaccines,” she said.
In April, Ghana introduced pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines to help protect its children against two major killers of children, pneumonia and diarrhoea. On Friday, Rwanda was also introducing the rotavirus vaccine, she said.
“These countries exemplify the country-driven approach inherent in the GVAP vision and strategy and the importance of national leadership in making the introduction of new vaccines a huge success,” she said.
“Progress on any front cannot be made without the firm leadership of countries, one of the six principles of the GVAP and a cornerstone of the GAVI Alliance,” she said.
Individuals from 290 organisations helped develop the GVAP in a consultation that lasted one year. The individuals included representatives, elected officials, health professionals, academics, manufacturers, global agencies, development partners, civil society, media and the private sector from more than 140 countries.