The World Health Organisation (WHO) says nearly a billion people will be vaccinated against yellow fever in 27 high-risks African countries by 2026. This will be done in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Gavi (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) and other partners
According to Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, this is because the world is facing an increased risk of Yellow Fever outbreaks and Africa is particularly vulnerable.
The WHO DG, at a three-day Eliminating Yellow fever Epidemics (EYE) strategy regional launch meeting on Tuesday in Abuja, stated that one person could be protected for life against this dangerous pathogen with just one injection.
According to him, “This unprecedented commitment by countries will ensure that by 2026 Africa is free of yellow fever epidemics.”
During the EYE meeting, he added, representatives from key African countries, WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, and other partners would develop roadmap to roll out the EYE strategy at the national level. The implementation effort follows the endorsement of the strategy by African ministers of health at the 67th WHO regional committee meeting in September 2017.
Similarly, Seth Berkeley, CEO of Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), said the comprehensive global strategy offered an unprecedented opportunity to end the devastating epidemic that periodically impact Africa.
According to him, they will ensure that the most vulnerable communities have access to the vaccine through routine systems.
Gavi partners have worked hard to improve the global vaccine supply situation in recent years to make sure there is enough vaccine to respond to outbreaks, allow preventive campaigns and that routine immunisation functions at full capacity, he stressed.
He added that three objectives of the strategy include protecting at-risk populations through preventive mass vaccination campaigns and routine immunisation programmes, preventing international spread, and containing outbreaks rapidly. Developing strong surveillance with robust laboratory networks is key to these efforts.
Stefan Peterson, UNICEF’s Chief of Health, said UNICEF would make vaccines available, advocate greater political commitment and provide support in vaccinating children through routine immunisation as well as during outbreaks of the disease.
The threat of Yellow Fever looms larger than ever before, especially for thousands of children across Africa, he said.
Given that almost half of the people to be vaccinated are children under 15 years of age, the campaign is critical to saving children’s lives, and would go a long way towards stamping out the diseases.
Meanwhile, Prof Isaac Adewole, the Minister of Health, advocated establishment of Yellow Fever laboratory in Nigeria, saying the Federal Government targets immunisation of 21 million Nigerians against yellow fever.
Since 2004, Nigeria recorded 1,604 out of which 115 was confirmed in Nigeria, 41 in Dakar, the remaining cases could not be confirmed due to transportation, he added.