Why Africa must sustain investments in immunization – Senegal’s president

SENEGAL’s President Macky Sall has called on African leaders to make immunization a priority.

Sall said the decline in immunization on the continent, occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, was a clarion call on the continent’s leaders to invest more resources in vaccines and routine immunization.

The Senegalese President, also the Chairman of the African Union, made the call preparatory to the Forum on Immunization and Polio Eradication in Africa’s meeting, which is holding in his country from Saturday, December 10.

Sall reminded leaders of the continent of the 25 million children who missed out on vaccination globally in 2021 because of the COVID-19 crisis and the toll the halt has had on global health, especially children.


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He appealed to fellow African leaders to implement the Addis Ababa Declaration on Immunization to ensure that no child dies of vaccine-preventable ailment.

The ICIR reports that 45 African countries are signatories to the declaration.

In the declaration, the leaders pledged to ensure that everyone on the continent – regardless of who they are or where they live – receives the full benefits of immunization.

The countries noted that immunization reduces child deaths by 50 per cent and increases school enrolment and attendance for children.
They also agreed that broad-based, inclusive growth in Africa depends on a healthy population, which immunization helps to achieve.

Another agenda, the Immunization Agenda 2030, unanimously adopted by all member states at the World Health Assembly in 2020, provides a strategic framework for addressing key immunization issues in the context of primary health care and universal health coverage from 2021-2030.

Sall said the continent would save many lives and foster development if its leaders implemented the two plans.

This newspaper reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Africa free of the wild poliovirus in August 2020, after Nigeria, the continent’s only nation with the virus, no longer recorded cases for months.

But there have been reports of polio cases in communities not reached by health officials for immunization on the continent. Here is the fact sheet on immunization on the continent.

Sall said that to tackle declining immunization rates and the resurgence of polio, African leaders must reaffirm their commitment to routine immunization, eradicating polio, addressing the resurgence of other vaccine-preventable diseases, and establishing vaccine manufacturing firms on the continent to ensure that no child is left behind.

His words, “It must be said loud and clear that immunization is a safe intervention. From conception to the first injection, vaccines follow a rigorous and standardized scientific protocol that leaves no room for chance. Immunization saves lives, especially those of women and children, who are, in many ways, vulnerable groups in society. Immunization is effective.

“It prevents human suffering and disabilities, and it helps to build strong immune systems in children.”

Meanwhile, the Acting Director of the Africa CDC, Ahmed Ouma, a doctor, assured that the organization had the expertise and the commitment needed to change the immunization narratives on the continent if the leaders played their roles.

“We are re-engaging around the Addis Declaration on Immunization to increase access to vaccines, improve outbreaks surveillance and response and invest in vaccine production in Africa. This is how we will protect our children from vaccine-preventable diseases and is key to the new public health order we are working toward,” he said.

Similarly, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Ghebreyesus, said the right to health includes the right to vaccines.

According to him, countries must ensure that routine immunization services guarantee equitable access to all children wherever they live.

He appealed for concerted regional and global action to expand access to life-saving vaccines that would enable the world to protect its people against multiple and concurrent outbreaks of diseases such as polio, measles, yellow fever, cholera, and diphtheria.






     

     

    The Executive Director of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Catherine Russell, also noted that the lives of millions of children and adolescents were at risk due to a drop in routine vaccinations that could prevent killer diseases.

    “We must urgently make up lost ground and expand our reach to prevent dangerous outbreaks of diseases like polio and measles, especially among children who have yet to receive a single immunization. We know this is possible if we all work together to reach every child.”

    But the Chief Executive Officer of GAVI, Seth Berkley, harped on the need for the continent to execute the Africa Union’s 2040 vision to expand vaccine manufacturing.

    Berkley said a thriving African vaccine manufacturing ecosystem would be a huge opportunity to improve health security and self-sufficiency for the continent.

     

     

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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