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500,000 African children die of immunization-preventable illnesses annually, WHO calls for implementation of ADI

News Reporter

JOHANNESBURG – The World Health Organisation believes that the implementation of the Addis Declaration on Immunisation is the key to arresting the immunization-related deaths that have become commonplace in Africa.

Addis Declaration on Immunisation commits to increasing and sustaining domestic investments and funding allocation to meet the cost of traditional vaccines, fulfill new vaccine financial requirements and provide support for operational support for immunisation activities.

It also commits to building broad political will for the right of every child and every community to universal access to life-saving vaccines and the best possible chance of a healthy future. ADI develops a capacitated African research sector to enhance immunisation implementation and uptake.

Dr Richard Mihigo, Programme Coordinator, Immunisation and Vaccines Development Programmes for WHO’s regional office in Africa, said this week that putting the ADI declaration into action would prove the silver bullet towards curbing infants deaths due to lack of immunisation.

He said this during a presentation on the Report of the PAP/WHO Dialogue on the implementation of the AU Declaration on Universal Access to Immunisation at the Pan-African Parliament in currently underway in Midrand, South Africa.

Dr Mihigo said there was need to look for strategies to put the declaration into action, as immunisation played a key role in preventing the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Every year, we record half a million deaths among children under five years due to vaccine-preventable diseases. This is unacceptable as it can be prevented by spreading immunisation in the countries,” said Dr Mihigo.

Vaccine-preventable diseases have had a very negative effect on national economy, with one study estimating that there would be a negative impact of 15 billion deaths in the next 10 years if nothing was done to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases. The survey was only done on three diseases namely diarrhea, measles and diphtheria.

Dr Prosper Tumusiime, the Director of Health Systems and Services Cluster at the WHO regional office in Africa, said it makes economic sense to Immunise and that it’s a national security yet few countries are funding immunisation.

“Immunisation saves lives, it helps strengthen health care as around 800,000 lives are saved every year with close to 1million protected from diseases,” he said, adding that every US$1 spent on child immunisation translated to US$44 gained. An immunised community means healthy children, and healthy children translate to a healthy economy, said the WHO official.

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