Funding for 16 more developing countries to introduce rotavirus vaccines as well as funding for 18 more countries to introduce pneumococcal vaccines, will be provided by The GAVI Alliance it was announced today. This is a huge advance in protecting children against the two leading killers among children - severe diarrhea and pneumonia.
In Sudan, the introduction of rotavirus vaccines has already started, and the announcement today verifies that a further 12 countries in Africa will receive funding in order to introduce the vaccines.
GAVI CEO Seth Berkley M.D., explained:
"Thanks to our donors and partners, the GAVI Alliance is now delivering on its promise to protect more children across the developing world against rotavirus, pneumococcal disease and other life-threatening yet preventable diseases.
The death toll of rotavirus and pneumococcal infections in Africa is particularly devastating, and this is where these vaccines will make the most significant impact, not only in lives saved, but also in terms of healthy lives lived. Immunization enables good health and healthy people are more productive and ultimately fuel economic growth."
On Monday 26th of September, GAVI's Executive Committee approved vaccine funding applications from 37 countries - 16 countries for rotavirus, 18 pneumococcal vaccines, 5 for pentavalent vaccine, and 12 for different types of vaccines. Some of the countries, such as Angola, Armenia, Ghana, Burundi, and Georgia have been approved for more than one vaccine. Out of the 37 countries approved, 24 are in Africa.
Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhea in children under the age of 5. Worldwide rotavirus kills over half a million children every year and as well as causing illness in millions more children. Almost half of all rotavirus deaths occur in Africa because access to treatment for severe rotavirus diarrhea is limited or not available.
Pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis are caused by pheumococcal disease causing the death of over half a million children every year across the world, with most of the deaths in Africa and Asia. The funding of 18 additional countries (including 12 in Africa) to introduce pneumococcal vaccines will take the total number to 37, since pneumococcal vaccines in GAVI-supported countries started In December 2010 in Nicaragua.
The goal for GAVI and its partners is to support over 40 of the poorest countries in the world by 2015 to introduce rotavirus vaccines and immunize over 50 million children. With the support from GAVI, Sudan, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Guyana, and Honduras have already introduced rotavirus vaccines.
Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, explained:
"The high number of approved applications for funding for new vaccines in this latest round is yet another milestone in the fight to prevent child deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases. As demand for new vaccines increases further, WHO will continue providing critical support to countries for decision-making on new vaccines, surveillance, and immunization program planning, training, and evaluation."
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, said:
"These new vaccines will prevent millions of children from dying of pneumonia and diarrhea, the biggest killers of children under five. In rolling out these vaccines, we need to focus especially on reaching the children at greatest risk, for it is among the most vulnerable that these vaccines can make the biggest difference, especially if they are combined with better nutrition, sanitation and other critical interventions."
Dr. Rajeev Venkayya, Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, explained:
"Vaccines prevent disease and give children a healthy start to life - they represent one of the best investments in global health. We must work together to ensure that all children have access to the right set of vaccines, in rich and poor countries alike."
It has been verified that rotavirus vaccines have been significantly effective at reducing severe and fatal diarrhea and has also saved the lives of thousands of children. Recent investigations reveal rapid and considerable impact of rotavirus vaccines to reduce the deaths and improve the health of children. For example, before the vaccines were introduced in Mexico in 2006, 50% of deaths due to childhood diarrhea were caused by rotavirus. Since the vaccines, the country has seen an amazing reduction of 46% in the number of children under 5 years dying from diarrhea.
The goal for GAVI and its partners is to fund over 40 countries to introduce pneumococcal vaccines and immunize over 90 million children against pneumococcal disease by the year 2015.
Written by Grace Rattue