Vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) claim the lives of over half a million children under five every year in Africa – representing 56% of global VPD-related deaths. Immunization is key to preventing these deaths and helping children everywhere survive and thrive. The African region has made tremendous gains toward increasing access to immunization in the last two decades, but immunization rates have stagnated in recent years. There is an urgent need to redouble efforts for vaccine delivery and increase country ownership of programs so that all children in Africa have access to life-saving vaccines.
1 in 5 children in Africa does not receive basic life-saving vaccines.
In 2016, GHS supported the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Offices for Africa (AFRO) and the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) to organize the first-ever Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa (MCIA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This was a galvanizing moment for immunization in Africa, bringing together more than 1,000 stakeholders from 70 countries and generating media coverage in leading outlets across the continent and around the world.
The MCIA culminated in the Addis Declaration on Immunization (ADI), which was subsequently endorsed by African heads of state at the 2017 African Union Summit. The ADI outlines 10 concrete commitments for governments and other stakeholders to strengthen immunization in their countries. Currently, GHS is supporting WHO AFRO in monitoring immunization progress to ensure that the ADI is implemented and that governments remain accountable to their commitments, to make universal access to immunization a reality in Africa. As a result of these sustained advocacy efforts, immunization has remained high on political agendas – in 2019, for example, the Pan-African Parliament announced the establishment of an African Parliamentarian Caucus on Immunization to drive forward the body’s commitment to improving vaccine delivery.