African leaders met in Ethiopia from 24 -25 February for a Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa. Their focus: expanding access to vaccines.
The conference was the first-ever ministerial-level gathering to focus on improving access to life-saving vaccines for African children. It served as a powerful platform for governments to identify current barriers and agree on action needed to make the vision of equitable access to vaccines a reality.
At the conference – which was hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Offices for Africa (AFRO) and the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) in conjunction with the African Union Commission (AUC) –
African Ministers of Health, Finance, Education, Social Affairs, and Local Government pledged to continue investment in immunization programs to ensure a healthy future for all people in Africa.
Civil society organizations recognized the importance of the conference and the role they too have to play in delivering this vision. José Luis Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vital Strategies, joined other civil society leaders in signing the following declaration supporting the meeting and its objectives:
“The Civil Society Declaration expresses the commitment Civil Society Organizations make to bridge the gap on immunization while calling on Ministers and stakeholders in the African region to ensure that all residents of their countries, especially the poorest and most marginalized, have access to immunization and other essential health services, towards universal coverage, delivered by qualified health service providers. It calls for government accountability to strengthen health systems that deliver immunization services, especially through ensuring a strong health workforce in reach of all communities, sufficient and sustainable financing, and a strong supply chain for uninterrupted purchase and delivery of vaccines in sufficient quantity to meet the population’s needs through increasing the national budget dedicated to health by 2020.”
Further information about the conference is available at http://immunizationinafrica2016.org