GAVI CEO Dr Seth Berkley pictured with China Health Minister Professor Chen Zhu in Beijing
Beijing, 12 September 2012 - Health Minister Professor Chen Zhu marked the Chinese Government’s first high-level meeting with the GAVI Alliance on Monday by signalling China’s willingness to expand collaboration with the Alliance.
In a meeting with GAVI CEO Dr. Seth Berkley in Beijing, Minister Chen indicated his Government’s interest in sponsoring and engaging with multilateral aid efforts in the public health sector, such as the GAVI Alliance.
In parallel, the Minister is keen for China to work closely with GAVI to help its domestic vaccine manufacturers meet international standards.
GAVI offers enormous revenue potential for Chinese vaccine manufacturers once they secure WHO pre-qualification. In March 2011, WHO certified China’s State Food and Drug Administration regulatory system as meeting international standards, an important prerequisite in the pre-qualification of Chinese vaccines.
GAVI looks forward to working with Chinese manufacturers in producing affordable life-saving vaccines in sufficient quantities to enable their distribution to children throughout Africa and Asia.
Seth Berkley MD, GAVI Alliance Chief Executive Officer
“Both China and India are two countries that need to produce large quantities of vaccines to immunise their very large birth cohorts. GAVI looks forward to working with Chinese manufacturers in producing affordable life-saving vaccines in sufficient quantities to enable their distribution to children throughout Africa and Asia,” said Dr. Berkley.
With Chinese vaccine companies growing fast, Minister Chen expressed his confidence in their future capacity to meet large-scale demand. However, the Minister added that the Chinese Government places even greater emphasis on the research and development of new vaccines, with plans to establish a vaccine centre at the national Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
Minister Chen also commended GAVI for dramatically increasing hepatitis B (hepB) vaccinations through a partnership with the Chinese government and China’s CDC between 2002 and 2010.
GAVI had not only facilitated the delivery of hepB vaccines, said the Minister, but also helped introduce the concept of safety management within China’s EPI. The Alliance also provided training for health workers in the rural regions, laying a solid foundation for future vaccine delivery.
The support of GAVI and its partners helped increase hepB vaccine coverage of newborns from 40 to 94 percent in the poorest and most remote provinces of western and central China; in 2005, China introduced hepB into its routine immunisation programme. As a result, less than one percent of children under 5 in China today are chronic carriers, compared to 10 percent a decade ago.
“We are hopeful that China’s hepatitis B success story can be replicated in other countries,” said Dr Berkley.