Gavi makes strides in vaccinating children in Horn of Africa

  • World
  • Friday, 23 Feb 2024

NAIROBI, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said Thursday that it has made great progress in reaching children who have never received any vaccine in the Horn of Africa and hopes to reach millions in fragile settings that are outside government health services in the coming years.

Thabani Maphosa, the managing director of country programs delivery at Gavi, said through the vaccination program, children living in hard-to-reach communities in the Horn of Africa countries, namely Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan, now have a fighting chance for a better future.

"We have administered a million doses of life-saving vaccines to children living across Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan, thanks to our Zero-Dose Immunization Program," Maphosa told Xinhua in an interview Thursday.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is a public-private global health partnership committed to saving children's lives and protecting people's health by increasing access to immunization in poor countries. It brings together developing countries and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, research and technical agencies, civil society organizations and private philanthropists.

The administration of a million vaccine doses is an important milestone for Gavi and it means that the journey to reaching the zero-dose children in Africa has just begun, Maphosa declared.

More than half of 2.71 million children in Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan aged under five years have never received a vaccine in their lives, according to Gavi. Another 420,000 children qualify as under-immunized, meaning they have not received their full schedule of vaccinations and remain vulnerable to preventable infectious diseases. This is due to conflicts, natural disasters like floods, political choices, and religious or cultural beliefs.

Maphosa said through the program started in January 2023 and implemented with partners International Rescue Committee and World Vision International, Gavi has administered the key vaccines children need including diphtheria tetanus pertussis, rotavirus and influenza.

The official said the immunization program has been successful because it integrates the vaccines alongside humanitarian services, for instance, nutrition.

He said Gavi is going to scale up the vaccination drive in the participating countries and expand in others across Africa in populations where government health services do not reach.

"By the end of 2024, we are hopeful that we would have administered between 5 and 8 million vaccine doses because as we continue to learn, it is becoming much easier to achieve our targets," he said.

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