[Ip-health] MSF intervention at WHO EB: Global immunization vision and strategy

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Tue Jan 18 13:45:42 PST 2011

Global immunization vision and strategy
WHO 128th Executive Board Agenda item 4.6

Intervention by Michelle Childs, Médecins Sans Frontières, delivered on

18th January 2011

Médecins Sans Frontières welcomes the proposed Global Immunization  
Vision and Strategy (EB128/9) which rightfully encourages a  
rebalancing of the global vaccine strategy, so that support for the  
introduction of the newer vaccines does not mean momentum is lost as  
regards the need to ensure basic immunization.

New vaccines such as pneumococcal vaccines have the potential to avert  
millions of deaths worldwide. At the same time, the need for MSF  
medical teams to intervene in several measles outbreak responses  
illustrates the weak coverage of traditional vaccines, and is a clear  
indication of the failure of routine basic immunization, despite the  
global decrease in measles morbidity and mortality.

Every day immunisation opportunities are missed, when young children  
accessing healthcare are not offered catch-up vaccinations. National  
immunisation programmes should be supported to leverage every  
interaction with young children to provide ‘catch-up’ vaccinations.   
financial incentives reward countries for vaccinating children under  
one but not for vaccinating children above one year. The target of  
vaccinating children by the age of one should be an aspiration, and  
not a cut-off point.

Funding for routine measles vaccinations and catch-up campaigns has  
gradually diminished in recent years because of decreased political  
will and priority setting. The Measles Initiative faces a critical  
funding gap and some countries are not in a position to raise the 50%  
of operational
costs asked of them to support supplementary vaccination activities.  
Simultaneously, implementing countries must continually be encouraged  
to increase their contribution to vaccination purchase and programmes.

To maximize the potential of vaccination, technologies better adapted  
to the realities of resource-limited settings need to be developed.  
The arrival of a low-cost meningitis A vaccine last year shows the  
promise of tailoring vaccine development to the needs to developing  
countries. The development of a more practical one-dose cholera  
vaccine, for use in
outbreaks such as in Haiti, is one of the key research and development  
challenges ahead.

The report from the Secretariat rightly underlines the fact that  
vaccine “prices continue to be a major obstacle”. The current funding  
crisis at the GAVI Alliance is partly due to prices that are too high.  
Too much emphasis has been put on incentivising multinational  
pharmaceutical companies, at the expense of investing in support to  
emerging producers that can produce
quality vaccines at dramatically reduced prices.

The report lacks strategies and concrete actions to bring vaccine  
prices down. It must include measures that stimulate competition as  
powerful way to reduce prices and should support increased price  
transparency. Competition can be achieved by supporting technology  
transfer, development support to emerging country vaccine makers and  
overcoming intellectual
property barriers where they exist. The meningitis A vaccine,  
developed with the critical participation of Southern producers and  
scientists, shows the efficiency of a model that delinks the cost of  
research from the price of a product, and provides a telling example  
of how different groups can work together from the outset to ensure a  
new product is affordable.


Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
thiru at keionline.org

Tel: +41 22 791 6727
Mobile: +41 76 508 0997

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