African immunization systems fall short, experts say

March 19, 2013

In Africa, issues of vaccine supply, financing, and sustainability require urgent attention if the Millennium Development Goals are to be achieved, according to African experts writing in this week's PLOS Medicine.

Shingai Machingaidze, Charles Wiysonge, and Gregory Hussey from the University of Cape Town in South Africa commend for their progress in immunisation programmes but infectious disease outbreaks, for example, polio and outbreaks, as well as high vaccine dropout rates across the region, indicate failures within the immunisation system.

The authors argue that wide inter- and intra country differences are responsible for large numbers of African children remaining unreached, unvaccinated, under-vaccinated, and still dying from vaccine-preventable diseases.

In 2010, an estimated 1.5 million children died world-wide from vaccine-preventable diseases and the authors argue that with the 2015 deadline for the approaching, it is necessary for Africa to take stock, critically assess its position, take ownership of the regional and country-specific problems, and develop precise strategies to overcome the challenges identified.

The authors say: "We believe that in order for Africa to take advantage of the new decade of vaccines and extend the full benefits of immunisation to its citizens by 2020 and beyond, a critical assessment is a fundamental first step."

The authors argue that immunisation systems strengthening is essential, as most are under-staffed with inadequate resources to function efficiently, but also argue that increased political will is also necessary.

The authors say: "Political and financial commitment from governments as well as coordinated national and continental evidence-informed efforts by all immunisation stakeholders are needed to both maintain current achievements and make additional progress for the Expanded Programme on Immunization in Africa."

They add: "African leaders must be held accountable for meeting agreed country targets and honouring international commitments made."

Explore further: TB trial highlights challenges with introducing new vaccine into childhood immunization schedule

More information: Machingaidze S, Wiysonge CS, Hussey GD (2013) Strengthening the Expanded Programme on Immunization in Africa: Looking beyond 2015. PLoS Med 10(3): e1001405. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001405

Related Stories

Predictive model developed for polio

October 18, 2011

Using outbreak data from 2003-2010, Kathleen O'Reilly of Imperial College London, UK and colleagues develop a statistical model of the spread of wild polioviruses in Africa that can predict polio outbreaks six months in advance. ...

Recommended for you

Fears of ageing may cause earlier death: UN

September 29, 2016

Being afraid of growing old may shorten your life, the UN health agency said Thursday, as new data highlighted the widespread prevalence of ageist attitudes worldwide.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.