ENN, (Elets News Network)
The GAVI Alliance is calling for renewed efforts in India to bolster routine immunisation coverage and protect more children from vaccine preventable diseases following the results of the country’s elections. GAVI welcomes the new Indian government and urges it to make childhood vaccination a key priority.
The call comes during the launch of GAVI’s replenishment in Brussels, in Belgium, where it set out an investment case for donors to back ambitious plans to immunise an additional 300 million children globally between 2016 and 2020, saving between five and six million lives.
Currently, 1.5 million children still die each year of vaccine preventable disease, and one in five children worldwide do not receive a full course of even the most basic vaccines. With a birth cohort of 26 million infants, India is home to the largest number of these unimmunised children – 6.8 million or roughly a third of the world’s total.
“The case for increasing immunisation coverage- is clear to protect the most vulnerable children from leading causes of death and disease – and India will play a vital role in realising that,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance. “By accelerating access to new and underused vaccines we can enable more of the world’s poorest children to grow up healthier, so they can spend more time at school and have a better opportunity to live healthy and productive lives.”
With GAVI Alliance support this year, India will continue the national rollout of the 5-in-1 Pentavalent vaccine, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type B disease. GAVI will also provide US $ 107 million over three years, until 2016, towards health system strengthening in India targeting lower-performing states. This will help India maintain the momentum and capitalise on the success of its polio campaign to strengthen routine immunisation nationally.
“In January 2014 India became GAVI’s newest donor, and the first implementing country to do so,” said Dr Berkley. “This demonstrates India’s continued leadership in immunisation and is a testament to its willingness to contribute to reducing child mortality. Additionally, we look forward to working with the new government in its initiatives to ensure that all Indian children have access to the benefits of a full range of vaccines.”
In a recent journal article published in The Lancet Global Health, co-authored with 28 leading health economists, epidemiologists and other global health experts, Dr Berkley, explained how the full benefits of childhood vaccination can impact well into a child’s life, through adulthood, into the wider community, and, ultimately, the national economy.
“Vaccines aren’t just a best buy in terms of preventing death and illness, although this is the reason enough to have every child on this planet fully-immunised,” said Dr Berkley. “But, we now know that vaccines also have a much wider impact, maximizing the full lifetime potential of these children, and the economic health of the families and countries in which they live.”