Immunization partners launch week-long campaign across Africa

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Antananarivo, Apr 24 : The World Health Organization (WHO) in the African region, in collaboration with UNICEF, African Union and other partners, on Monday launched the eighth African Vaccination Week (AVW).
The week-long campaign from April 23 to 29 under the theme: ’Vaccines work, Do your part!,’ will raise awareness of the need and right of everyone, particularly children and women, to be protected
from diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. It will also draw attention to the progress that has been made to ensure access to basic life-saving vaccinations across the continent.
“The African region has made commendable progress towards improving access to vaccines. African Heads of State and Government committed to investing more in immunization services and ensuring vaccination for all by endorsing the Addis Declaration on Immunization (ADI) in 2017.
However, unless this political will is translated into action, the region will not achieve universal immunization coverage by 2020.
Concrete actions are required to ensure that children and other vulnerable people are protected from death and diseases which can be prevented through vaccination,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Immunization is widely recognised as one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions. Hospitalizations due to vaccine-preventable diseases has been reduced due introduction of new effective vaccines. Despite this, large numbers of children and adults still do not have access to many life-saving vaccines.
“If Governments, the UN and partners are to be successful in increasing immunization coverage, then we must collectively and robustly address weak health systems, accessibility challenges for
children living in slums and hard to reach areas, socio-cultural barriers, and misinformation around vaccination”, said Leila Pakkala, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern and South Africa.
Vaccines provide benefits beyond health outcomes through savings on medical costs, and increased productivity through reduced time spent by parents and health care workers caring for sick children.
These savings can benefit families, communities and nations through economic growth and poverty reduction.
“High vaccine coverage builds equitable health systems and is also vital for long term health security across the continent,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “Ensuring universal
access to immunisation in Africa is critical to improve health, save lives and help build strong communities.”
AVW 2018 builds on the historic endorsement of the ADI in 2017 and a roadmap has been developed in close collaboration with WHO, the African Union Commission and immunization partners to support
countries in the continent to ensure that everyone in Africa receives the full benefits of immunization. The roadmap provides countries with specific strategies that can be incorporated into existing efforts to improve immunization.
“Africa Cares; Vaccinations contribute to better lives. Act now”, said HE Amira EL Fadil Mohamed, Commissioner for Social Affairs, Africa Union Commission.

African Vaccination Week is an effective way of reaching people with limited access to regular health services. Held annually since 2011, the initiative has resulted in over 150 million people of all
ages being vaccinated, millions receiving Vitamin A and deworming tablets, and about 35 million being screened and treated for malnutrition. The campaign keeps immunization high on national and
regional agendas.
The Member States, in collaboration with WHO Country offices and partners across the continent will celebrate AVW 2018 with various country-specific programs including vaccination, provision of a range of life saving health activities, health promotion, community outreach, media activities and more.