May 15, 2012 | The Editors

One decade, millions of lives

An action plan for the Decade of Vaccines

Next week, an international group with members involved in just about every aspect of developing and delivering vaccines will present a plan to the decision-making body of the World Health Organization and ask for its endorsement. The group is called the Decade of Vaccines Collaboration. The plan proposes a way toward achieving the group’s vision: “a world in which all individuals and communities enjoy lives free from vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Nurse in white dress administers vaccine in the upper arm of adolescent boy.
In 2010, countries in the “meningitis belt” of sub-Saharan Africa began introducing a vaccine against meningitis A. Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.

There’s plenty in the plan to make the hearts of global health groupies race. Even the acronyms, always a marker of a meaty global health text, reach new heights of creativity. But here’s what you need to know: the plan estimates that sustaining and increasing the use of ten existing vaccines will save 24 to 26 million lives by 2020.

Decade of ambitious work

“We hope the World Health Assembly will endorse the plan,” says Laurie Werner, working group coordinator for the Decade of Vaccines Collaboration. “Once they do, we’ll have a strategy for the next ten years and can start implementing what’s really a very ambitious plan.”

Fulfilling those ambitions will take work in just about every area of vaccines and immunization. The plan’s strategy addresses developing new vaccines and better ways to deliver them; building countries’ commitment to immunization; increasing the percentage of people who receive vaccines; strengthening the health systems that deliver them; and ensuring immunization programs have sustainable and predictable funding. It also tackles a less familiar task: making sure people understand the value of vaccines and demand immunization as both a right and a responsibility.

Right up our alley

At PATH, we work in all of these areas—you can read about the breadth of our projects in a special section of our website. Our staff were involved in developing the action plan, and we’re committed to its success. We’ll be watching the World Health Assembly meetings next week closely. We’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, the global health groupies among you are in for a treat. You can learn more about the Decade of Vaccines Collaboration and its Global Vaccine Action Plan on the group’s website.


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