Special focus on challenges and opportunities for the development and use of vaccines in Africa

Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics (formerly Human Vaccines)
Volume 14, Issue 10, 2018

Editor’s Letter
In this issue of Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics we are delighted to present a Special Focus on Vaccination in Africa, which introduces recent work in vaccinology on the continent. We welcome you to read the Editorial Introduction by Dr. Shabir Madhi of University of the Witwatersrand, which provides an overview of, and the context for, the 15 articles in this section (Madhi, p. 2335)…

Special focus on challenges and opportunities for the development and use of vaccines in Africa
Shabir A. Madhi & Helen Rees
Pages: 2335-2339
Published online: 27 Sep 2018
Immunization of children against vaccine-preventable diseases is one of the most cost-effective and potentially equitable public health interventions. Nevertheless, approximately 19.9 million of the world’s annual birth cohort are either under-immunized or have not been vaccinated at all. Understanding the factors contributing to under-immunization in settinsg such as sub-Saharan Africa which bears a disproportionate burden of vaccine preventable diseases is key to unlocking the full potential that vaccines offer in reducing under-5 morbidity and mortality. The series or articles in this issue of the Journal, mainly through systematic analysis of District Health Surveillance data bases from 35 countries, highlight the challenges faced in improving vaccination coverage rates in sub-Saharan Africa which has stagnated at approximately 72% for completion of the primary series of infant vaccines over the past decade. The reasons for under-immunization of children is sub-Saharan Africa is identified to be multi-factorial and may differ between and within countries. This highlights the need for country-specific, possibly at a district or sub-regional level, interrogation of factors contributing to under-immunization of children, to work toward providing Universal Health Coverage as envisioned in the Sustainable Development Goals.