in which they endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunization.
The Declaration is a historic pledge to ensure that everyone in Africa – regardless of who they are or where they live – receives the full benefits of immunization.
The endorsement was issued during the 28th African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, according to a dispatch.
While Africa has made impressive gains over the last 15 years toward increasing access to immunization, progress has stagnated, and the continent is falling behind on meeting global immunization targets.
One in five children in Africa still does not receive basic life-saving vaccines and, as a result, vaccine-preventable diseases continue to claim too many lives. Measles alone accounts for about 61,000 preventable deaths in the African region every year.
“We know that universal access to immunization is achievable,” noted outgoing African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
“The Addis Declaration on Immunization is a historic pledge. With political support at the highest levels, we are closer than ever to ensuring that all children in Africa have an equal shot at a healthy and productive life,” she added.
The Addis Declaration on Immunization calls for countries to increase political and financial investments in their immunization programmes.
“Vaccines are among the most effective public health tools available,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.
“When children are given a healthy start, communities thrive and economies grow stronger. This show of support from Heads of State is a significant step forward in our efforts to achieve universal access to immunization and, ultimately, improve child health and drive sustainable development across Africa.”
Fewer than 15 African countries fund more than 50 percent of their national immunization programmes.
As Africa nears polio eradication, critical funding for immunization through the polio eradication programme is expected to ramp down.
The Addis Declaration on Immunization was signed by Ministers of Health and other line ministers at the Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa (MCIA) in February 2016 in Addis Ababa.