African States Urged to Prioritise Vaccination

African States Urged to Prioritise Vaccination

Addis-Ababa — A group of eminent African politicians and medical experts attending sessions of the inaugural African Development week in the Ethiopian capital, have made a fervent appeal to Governments across the continent to allocate 0.5 to 1 per cent of their budgets to buy vaccines and thus "save many lives".

"Vaccination is recognised in health as one of the most remarkable and profitable investments," said Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, well known Nigerian stateswoman and current Board Chair of the Gavi Alliance, while chairing a high-level panel on vaccines and immunisation, held on the fringe of the ministerial event. "Vaccinated children enjoy better health, are more likely to enrol and succeed in school and, once adult, to enjoy good health and to be productive" she added, as she and her peers drew parallels between immunisation and development in Africa.

During a segment to examine sources of sustainable and predictable financing for immunisation, the Honourable Grégoire Lusenge of Congo schooled panellists on the important role that the Network of Congolese Parliamentarians is playing to mobilise resources for vaccination. He said, "thanks to the efficient lobbying of the Network, the Congolese Government has finally accepted to definitively include in its budget a budget-line for vaccination". He further indicated that the Network has taken up vaccination by participating in all campaigns countrywide.

Referring to the experience of his own nation, Uganda's Minister of State for Finance - Mr Isameldine Mohamed Abdallah said his country vaccinates against 13 diseases and that ownership of a vaccination card is now a prerequisite for primary school goers to attend classes.

Meanwhile the panel, which also included Mr Fred Omach - Uganda's Minister of State for Finance, Mr Isameldine Mohamed Abdallah - Secretary of State to the Sudan's Minister for Health, Mrs Mona Quartley - Ghana's Deputy Minister for Finance, and Mr Seth Berkley - CEO of GAVI made three overarching action points to be considered by the continent's leaders: (i) the critical need for consultation between Ministers of Finance and Ministers of Health to find appropriate solutions to the problem of vaccine financing, which is a development tool par excellence that each country must mainstream into its development policies and programmes,(ii) the insertion of a budget line for vaccination in the budget of each country, and (iii) the total disbursement of funds allocated for vaccination through action synergies between ministries in charge of health and ministries in charge of finance as well as via members of parliament.