Dr. Kathy Neuzil, who directs PATH’s activities in vaccine access and delivery, is in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, this week for the GAVI Partners’ Forum, a meeting of those helping the GAVI Alliance increase access to immunization in the world’s poorest countries. Here’s her report.
There’s a buzz around vaccines this week in Dar-es-Salaam as more than 650 immunization experts gather for the fifth GAVI Partners’ Forum. I’m delighted to be taking part alongside our CEO Steve Davis and many PATH coworkers from around the world.
The program this week focuses on results, innovation, sustainability, and equity in immunization. PATH is a key GAVI partner in all of these areas, and along with our colleagues here, we’re gratified to see success come from our efforts. Since 2000, more than 5.5 million deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases have been avoided in developing countries.
View our video on equity in immunization.
Advances in access
Much of my career has been dedicated to improving access to lifesaving vaccines, including vaccine that targets the most common cause of severe diarrhea, rotavirus. So it was especially gratifying for me to learn that by the end of the year, GAVI’s support will have contributed to rotavirus immunization in more than 5 million children in developing countries. This would not have been possible without the contributions of many of my colleagues—in the countries rolling out the vaccine and at PATH, the World Health Organization, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This week has also marked Tanzania’s dual introduction of pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines. Tanzania is the second GAVI country after Ghana to undertake introduction of the two vaccines at the same time. I’m proud that we helped by working with UNICEF to organize a technical exchange visit to Ghana for the team from the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
What’s next in immunization
At the GAVI Partners’ Forum, we’re not only celebrating progress, we’re also looking ahead at how we can meet the next series of challenges.
PATH’s work with GAVI includes a number of projects focused on research and analysis, policy development, and advocacy and communications. In recent years, we’ve overseen the completion of studies on rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines in Bolivia, The Gambia, Ghana, Nicaragua, and South Africa. And we developed a vaccine supply and demand forecasting platform—a tool designed to help secure predictable vaccine supplies at optimal prices.
This year we expanded our focus to include support for the introduction through GAVI of vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer. We’re also poised to help ensure Japanese encephalitis vaccine is made available through GAVI as soon as product approvals are complete.
Equitable access to vaccine
Many sessions at the forum have focused on equity, which has always been central to PATH’s vaccine work. Earlier this week, I was moved to see a film on equity in immunization produced by PATH for the Partners’ Forum. If you’d like to take a look, the video is embedded just above.
This week, we started work with many of our partners to develop a framework to support GAVI’s equity goals. It’s an opportunity to consolidate and strengthen partnerships that can help address both in-country and inter-country disparities that compromise optimal vaccine coverage.
Vaccines are one the most cost-effective health interventions we have. They help to secure a healthy start in life for children, which in turn contributes to economic stability and development. I’m proud of the work we do at PATH to promote access to lifesaving vaccines, and I’m proud to be a part of the wider international vaccine community represented here this week.
- Vaccine Access and Delivery program website
- Rotavirus vaccine access and delivery website
- GAVI Alliance website