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Experts Call For Better Vaccine Supply, Logistics Systems Ahead Of World Immunization Week

In recognition of World Immunization Week, which began April 21, the WHO “is calling on nations to help immunize more children against preventable diseases so more lives can be saved,” VOA News reports, noting the U.N. health agency “estimates immunization saves the lives of two to three million children every year.” However, “20 percent, or 22 million children, are not protected from dangerous diseases with basic vaccines,” VOA writes, adding, “WHO Director of Immunization, Vaccination and Biologicals, Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, says the lack of universal coverage is the reason why global efforts to eradicate polio and to eliminate measles are behind schedule” (Schlein, 4/18). “Better vaccine supply and logistics systems are needed to help reach the 22 million children in developing countries who have still not received basic vaccines against dangerous diseases, according to a global partnership on vaccines,” SciDev.Net writes.

“This is one of the messages from a special issue of the Vaccine journal — published [Thursday] ahead of World Immunization Week (21-28 April) — that explores strategies to drive progress on the $57 billion Global Vaccine Action Plan, endorsed by the WHO in 2012,” the news service notes. “The plan was drawn up by the Decade of Vaccines Collaboration, a partnership that includes the WHO, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the GAVI Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” and “[i]t aims to strengthen immunization systems to ensure that more vaccines are discovered, developed and delivered to people in most need,” the news service adds. However, in a statement released Friday, Kate Elder, vaccines policy adviser for the Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign, said the Decade of Vaccines plan “lacks ambition when it comes to bringing vaccine prices down and making vaccines better adapted for use in developing countries,” according to SciDev.Net. The news service adds, “GAVI and its partners are succeeding in reducing the cost of key vaccines, and working hard to develop new and innovative ways to reach more children, they say” (Tatalović, 4/19).