Roselyne Sachiti in ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA—
African countries, especially those that have attained middle class status have been urged to increase investment in immunisation and start making preparations to finance activities from their own national budgets and move from donor dependence. According to a new report “Fulfilling a promise: Ensuring immunisation for all in Africa” issued here by the World Health Organisation’s Regional Office for Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean region ahead of the first ever Ministerial Conference on Immunisation in Africa, only 15 African countries fund more than 50 percent of their national immunisation programmes.
These include Algeria, Cape Verde, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Seychelles, Mauritius and Equatorial Guinea.
Addressing journalists, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said during the ministerial conference, they would further encourage health ministers to make more efforts to understand the importance of vaccines.
“For Africa to achieve its full potential and secure a bright future, we must unite to ensure that every child on the continent receives vaccines he or she needs to survive and thrive,” she said.
Currently, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has invested heavily in supporting 70 percent of countries on the continent that is 38 out of 54 countries.
More than 240 million African children have been immunised through Gavi support since 2000.
Zimbabwe is one of the countries that receives funding from Gavi. Between the year 2000 and November 2015, Gavi disbursed $74 270 696 for measles (NVS), rubella and rota virus immunisation among others. African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko said a lot of work needs to be done to adress gaps.
This, he said, requires the highest political support at country and continental level.
Ethiopia Minister of Health Dr Kesetebirhan Admasu said Africa could do more. “We must do more to protect all our children from devastating illnesses – not only because it is our responsibility to ensure healthier futures for our citizens, but also because it is a smart economic decision,” said Dr Admasu.
African Union Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said, “This is the start of a new era of health on our continent in which all countries commit to saving and improving children’s lives using one of the most powerful tools ever invented: vaccines.
“Africa’s unity on immunisation is our best hope for a better future,” said Dr Dlamini-Zuma.