WHA68 Side Meeting on Immunization
“Achieving the Global Vaccine Action Plan Objective for Routine Coverage: What can be done to get back on track?”
20 May 2015 ¦ Geneva – During the WHA68, a side meeting on immunization with delegates from Member States with DTP3 coverage below 80% was convened by WHO. The objectives were to discuss the challenges faced by countries to reach global vaccination targets for 2015 and explore solutions to overcome them. Lead agencies in the Decade of Vaccines Collaboration and other development partners were given the opportunity to reiterate their commitments to support countries to achieve this important goal.
The WHA side meeting was co-sponsored by Thailand, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United States of America and was chaired by Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director General, Family, Women’s and Children’s Health. Dr Margaret Chan, the Director-General of WHO, was in attendance. Representatives of agencies comprising the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) Secretariat, namely Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation were present, as well as representatives from Civil Society Organizations.
Member States highlighted critical operational needs and challenges to ensure wider vaccination and delivery on the ground to reach every last child especially those living in remote and inaccessible areas, the need to strengthen vaccine supply chains, the challenges posed by conflict, natural disasters and vaccine stock out and the importance of mechanisms to secure sustainable supplies of vaccines at affordable prices.
Dr Chan highlighted several areas that require attention, including the need to address vaccine hesitancy and refusal, improve communications to create greater awareness of the importance of immunization and the science behind vaccines, the need for collective actions and the importance of private public partnerships to come up with new funding mechanisms. She emphasized the need to build on the lessons learned from the polio eradication initiative.
Notable achievements have been made with the help of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to enhance access and the roll out of new vaccines. It was acknowledged that problems remain with reaching the “5th child”. UNICEF is working hand-in-hand with WHO and partners to address the issues impeding the achievement of high coverage and plays an important role in strengthening supply chains.
Dr Elias highlighted that a collective effort was required and encouraged each in the room, international agencies, development partners and national governments “to challenge ourselves to find new solutions to address the remaining barriers to universal access to immunization”.
“The fifth child is often part of undocumented migrant or urban populations or living in remote or insecure areas. Hence, the strategies to reach them cannot be a continuation of what we have done till now”
Dr Chris Elias, President of the Global Development Programme, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation