As the world celebrated the International Day of the Girl Child recently, organizations in over ten countries launched the 33 Days to Power up Immunization Campaigns. “We recognize that progress has been made,” says Mr TOMEKPA Vincent, Secretary General of FENOS-CI in Ivory Coast. He added: “Yet one in five African children still lacks access to all the necessary and basic vaccinations. “
In January 2017, African Heads of States endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunization (ADI), through which they acknowledged that despite their endorsement of the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), they are largely off track. The ADI reinforces their commitment at the highest level of political engagement. Immunization ranks among the most cost-effective health interventions, for girls and boys, delivering a high ratio of health benefits-lives saved and illness prevented-to cost, especially where disease burden is high. This means immunization is one of the best uses of limited public funds for health.
In Africa, for every $1 spent on childhood immunizations, you get $41 in economic and social benefits. “We must keep the momentum throughout the year, but we are also making sure that we apply heightened pressure over these 33 days that are so important for Immunization.” Says Clarisse Loe Loumou, Board Member of the Gavi CSO Constituency.
“These key international days show not only what can be achieved through sustained and focused commitment as with Polio, but also that so much needs to be done to ensure that children do not die of Pneumonia. It is also an opportunity as from today to ensure that equity as much as coverage is crucial to achieving universal access to immunization. Vaccines such as HPV that are of critical importance to girls must continue to be made available to girls everywhere.”
The 33 days to Power Up Immunization campaign is a continuation of what was started with the Africa Vaccination Week and World Health Assembly. In 2016, the continent made significant achievements of interrupting the wild poliovirus transmission for over one year; the near elimination of Meningococcal Meningitis A epidemic, and the significant reduction in disease burden and child mortality due to Measles.