President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed a declaration which, if fully implemented, will quicken the end of vaccine-preventable diseases like polio and improve immunisation in Kenya.
Uhuru and other African heads of states signed the declaration at the the 28th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa on Tuesday.
It has 10 commitments, including increasing vaccine-related funding, strengthening supply chains and delivery systems, and making universal access to vaccines part of development plans like Vision 2030.
“Vaccines are among the most effective public health tools available,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organisation regional director for Africa.
“When children are given a healthy start, communities thrive and economies grow stronger. This show of support from Heads of State is a significant step forward in our efforts to achieve universal access to immunisation and, ultimately, improve child health and drive sustainable development across Africa.”
The Declaration on Universal Access to Immunisation in Africa, encompasses the Addis Declaration on Immunisation, which was signed by Health ministers in February last year.
Africa has the lowest level of immunisation coverage in the world, with more than half of the world’s unimmunised infants located in five African countries.
Currently, Gavi helps Kenya procure its vaccines through a co-financing model, where Kenya pays for 10 per cent of its entire vaccine budget, about Sh400 million, while Gavi pays the other 90 per cent, around Sh3.97 billion, every year.
Kenya is at least 24 Gavi-eligible countries that are slated to transition out of Gavi support, meaning governments will need to be able to fully fund their immunisation programmes.
“We know that universal access to immunisation is achievable,” noted outgoing African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. “With political support at the highest levels, we are closer than ever to ensuring that all children in Africa have an equal shot at a healthy and productive life.”
The Addis Declaration on Immunisation calls for countries to increase political and financial investments in their immunisation programmes.
“As long as even one child in Africa lacks access to immunisation, our work remains unfinished,” said Dr Ala Alwan, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean. “With the right mix of political will, financial resources and technical acumen, Africa can – and will – stem the tide of vaccine-preventable diseases across the continent.”
The Addis Declaration on Immunisation was signed by Ministers of Health and other line ministers at the Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa (MCIA) in February 2016 in Addis Ababa.
MCIA was the first-ever ministerial-level gathering with a singular focus on ensuring that children across the continent can access life-saving vaccines. To guide the implementation of the ADI, a roadmap is being developed in close collaboration with the WHO offices in the African Region and Eastern Mediterranean Region, the African Union Commission and immunization partners.
“African leaders are showing outstanding leadership by endorsing this landmark commitment which will allow more African children to be reached with life-saving vaccines no matter where they live,” said Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance board.
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