Ghana introduces pneumococcal – rotavirus vaccination program

GAVI said that Ghana has become the first African country to introduce pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines at the same time. In Ghana, these diseases, together, account for approximately 20% of the country’s under-five child mortality. Ghana’s First Lady H.E. Dr Ernestina Naadu Mills was joined by the country’s Minister of Health Hon. M Alban S. K. Bagbin, GAVI Alliance CEO Dr Seth Berkley, WHO Deputy Director General Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, UNICEF Country Representative Dr Iyabode Olusanmi, and other international guests at a special ceremony in Accra, where the first doses of the vaccines were administered to children. Health Minister Hon. Alban S. K. Bagbin said, “Our children have been dying from these vaccine-preventable diseases for too long, but this moment begins a major fight back. With these vaccines, we want to, and we will, achieve MDG4, the two-thirds reduction of our child mortality by 2015.”

26 April 2012

New global strategy to reduce measles deaths and congenital rubella syndrome to zero

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, with partners in the renamed Measles and Rubella Initiative, launched “a new global strategy aimed at reducing measles deaths and congenital rubella syndrome to zero.” The announcement was accompanied by new data showing that accelerated efforts have resulted in a 74 per cent reduction in global measles mortality, from an estimated 535,000 deaths in 2000, to 139,000 in 2010. UNICEF noted that through increased routine immunization coverage and large-scale immunization campaigns, Africa made the most progress with an 85 per cent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2010. [see The Lancet – Online First content below in Journal Watch] The new strategy is focused on “…cutting global measles deaths by at least 95 per cent by 2015 compared with 2000 levels, and achieving measles and rubella elimination in at least five World Health Organization (WHO) regions by 2020. The strategy includes: high vaccination coverage; monitoring spread of disease using laboratory-backed surveillance; outbreak preparedness and response and measles case management; communication and community engagement; and research and development.”

UNICEF said that under the new strategy, 63 countries currently not using rubella vaccines are encouraged to use their measles vaccination delivery system to introduce rubella vaccines into their national immunization schedule, protecting children against both diseases with one combined shot. Founded originally as the Measles Initiative in 2001, the new Measles and Rubella Initiative is led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF and WHO.

25 April 2012

The WHO coverage of this announcement included links to the following content:


Measles mortality news release
24 April 2012

European countries must take action now to prevent continued measles outbreaks in 2012
2 December 2011

The Measles Initiative vaccinates one billion children in first decade
4 August 2011

Strategic plan

Global Measles and Rubella Strategic Plan 2012-2020
pdf, 1.39Mb

Press Conference Materials

April 2012

World Immunization Week 2012 – 180 countries

    World Immunization Week was implemented for the first time, involving over 180 countries and running 21-28 April 2012. The theme of the week —

Protect your world: Get vaccinated –  “aims to reinforce the importance of immunization and encourage people everywhere to vaccinate themselves and their children against serious diseases. It is also a time to recall that, in this rapidly globalizing world, disease outbreaks can affect communities everywhere.”

Additional coverage:

World Malaria Day: Statements, Media Releases

Statement: Director-General commemorates World Malaria Day
Dr Margaret Chan
Director-General of the World Health Organization
Statement on World Malaria Day
Oshakati, Namibia
25 April 2012

Press release: UNICEF marks World Malaria Day

Statement: NIH – World Malaria Day – April 25, 2012
B. F. (Lee) Hall, M.D., Ph.D., and Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Media Release: PATH recognizes World Malaria Day 2012
Events in Seattle and Washington, DC, highlight progress toward ending malaria deaths

Global Fund reports on Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria (AMFm)

The Global Fund announced that “an innovative initiative…to put affordable and effective anti-malaria medicines in remote communities in Africa, is making rapid progress in Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.” The Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria (AMFm), which is managed by the Global Fund, “allows people to buy life-saving malaria treatment in private stores and pharmacies for less than one U.S. dollar. Comparable malaria medicines outside the program cost up to ten to twenty times as much.” Dr. Olusoji Adeyi, who heads the AMFm initiative at the Global Fund in Geneva, said, “The innovation is working, bringing relief to millions who need quality anti-malaria medicines at affordable prices. The AMFm is a game-changer in financing access to malaria treatments.” AMFm is “making anti-malaria medicines, called artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), available as widely and inexpensively as possible to those who need them. It allows people to obtain effective drugs without having to travel long distances to reach public health clinics. AMFm is also helping to drive out ineffective medicines off the market, making effective ACT treatment available and accessible to millions of people.”

GAVI “strengthens governance structure”

GAVI said the “under the leadership of its Chair Dagfinn Høybråten, it is strengthening its governance structure by improving its gender balance and streamlining its executive committee composition.” GAVI had earlier announced the appointment of three new independent Board members, all of them women, “achieving the target it set for itself in 2010 of at least 40% representation for both genders. Eleven out of 26 Board members are now female.” In the current announcement, GAVI noted “the restructuring of the Board’s Executive Committee to simplify the process concerning commercially-sensitive decision making.” Mr Høybråten commented, “We believe our governance standards are world class and transparent, and we are always looking to improve and streamline our processes.” The restructuring involves the Board’s 12-member Executive Committee, which “is empowered to make time-sensitive decisions on behalf of the Board between scheduled Board meetings. Since 2008, one of these seats has been assigned to a representative of the vaccine manufacturing industry. Following a decision by vaccine manufacturers not to seek reappointment to the Executive Committee, the Executive Committee will contract to 11 members: the Board Chair, the Vice Chair, eight additional Board members, and the non-voting CEO.” Mr. Høybråten added, “This voluntary move by the Developing Countries Vaccines Manufacturers Network (DCVMN) and the industrialized countries vaccines manufacturers will simplify our discussions and decision making processes even further. Vaccine manufacturers continue to be an important partner in our Alliance and on the Board.” GAVI said that “under existing procedures, conflicted members and members with even a perceived conflict of interest must remove themselves from discussion and voting on sensitive items related to their respective constituencies.”