AN EVALUATION OF INFANT IMMUNIZATION IN AFRICA: IS A TRANSFORMATION IN PROGRESS?

Sunday, 3rd of August 2014 Print
[source]Bulletin of the WHO[|source]

In response to challenges in global immunization, WHO and UNICEF set up the Global Immunization Vision and Strategy (GIVS) in 2003. The chief goal of GIVS was to reduce illness and death due to vaccine-preventable diseases by at least two-thirds by 2015 or earlier. The Task Force on Immunization in Africa (TFI) recognized, from the outset, the need for high vaccination coverage to counter the disproportionate burden from vaccine-preventable diseases in the African Region, and therefore set challenging goals for 2001–2005. These goals aimed to ensure that the immunization performance of the African Region caught up with other regions of WHO.

 In this report, the authors explored the progress made on the GIVS objectives and concluded that WHO African Region is at a crucial point in immunization history. The report documents that there is enthusiasm, expertise and resources mobilized through the Polio Eradication Initiative, the Measles Partnership, the GAVI Alliance and other initiatives that have transformed the immunization scene in Africa, but called for a more robust and long-term approach to funding the program to sustain the improvements. More details are accessible at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2636339/

 
Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To assess the progress made towards meeting the goals of the African Regional Strategic Plan of the Expanded Programme on Immunization between 2001 and 2005.

METHODS: We reviewed data from national infant immunization programmes in the 46 countries of WHO African Region, reviewed the literature and analysed existing data sources. We carried out face-to-face and telephone interviews with relevant staff members at regional and subregional levels.

FINDINGS: The African Region fell short of the target for 80% of countries to achieve at least 80% immunization coverage by 2005. However, diphtheria–tetanus–pertussis-3 coverage increased by 15%, from 54% in 2000 to 69% in 2004. As a result, we estimate that the number of nonimmunized children declined from 1.4 million in 2002 to 900 000 in 2004. In 2004, four of seven countries with endemic or re-established wild polio virus had coverage of 50% or less, and some neighbouring countries at high risk of importation did not meet the 80% vaccination target. Reported measles cases dropped from 520 000 in 2000 to 316 000 in 2005, and mortality was reduced by approximately 60% when compared to 1999 baseline levels. A network of measles and yellow fever laboratories had been established in 29 countries by July 2005.

CONCLUSIONS: Rates of immunization coverage are improving dramatically in the WHO African Region. The huge increases in spending on immunization and the related improvements in programme performance are linked predominantly to increases in donor funding.

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