Geneva, 13 November 2009 -Over 20 health ministers from developing countries have appealed to donors to maintain their commitment to immunisation programmes ahead of a meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, next week.
"Vaccines offer one of the most cost-effective ways to protect our children," said Dr Leslie Ramsammy, Guyana's Minister of Health. "Immunisation saves lives, improves health, and ensures long-term prosperity. Vaccines are a good buy for money."
Immunisation saves lives, improves health, and ensures long-term prosperity. Vaccines are a good buy for money.
Dr Leslie Ramsammy, Guyana's Minister of Health
The ministers will gather in Hanoi for the 4th GAVI Alliance Partner's Forum from 18 to 20 November to highlight the significant progress already achieved in protecting children's lives and the challenges that lie ahead.
Thanks to steady donor support over the past decade, many low-income countries have continuously increased immunisation rates against common but deadly diseases.
Earlier this year, Rwanda became the first developing nation to introduce a pneumococcal vaccine in its immunisation programme. A vaccine against pneumococcal disease has existed since 2000, but has only been available in wealthy countries.
"Country demand for new vaccines, especially against pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases, has never been higher," said Dr Richard Sezibera, Rwanda's Minister of Health."Low-income countries are committed to immunising their children. Every child deserves to be immunised. The roll-out of pneumococcal vaccine is an important step in that direction."
The GAVI Alliance added rotavirus vaccines to its portfolio of vaccines in 2006. Following WHO's recommendation that rotavirus vaccines should be included in all national immunisation programmes, low-income countries can apply for GAVI funding.
"The current global economic climate calls for increased focus on cost-effective health investments. Vaccines are relatively easy to deliver and administer and in many cases, they provide lifelong protection," said Tatul Hakobyan, Armenia's Deputy Minister of Health. "We must continue the momentum. A return to the low rates of the 1990s is not an option."
More and more of the world's low-income countries are contributing towards the cost of vaccines purchased through GAVI. Thirty-two countries now help finance the purchase of vaccines against rotavirus, Hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis - four times as many countries than in 2007. In total, these co-payments amounted to more than US$ 20 million in 2008, or 13% of the respective cost to GAVI.
Guyana became the first country to graduate from GAVI support and take on the full cost of pentavalent vaccine protecting against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b.
"Because of vaccines we are nurturing our future Ministers of Health, our future Presidents and Prime Ministers, our heroes of tomorrow," Minister Ramsammy said.
"With each dose of vaccine we guarantee our future, our doctors, our nurses, our engineers and lawyers, our teachers. With each dose of vaccine, we ensure we will be fed by our farmers. Let us guarantee our future. With each dose of vaccine we proclaim to the world: Children wanted, children loved!"