[Ip-health] MSF urges GAVI to extend vaccine prices to humanitarian actors to help close gap of unvaccinated children

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Wed Dec 5 04:54:42 PST 2012

At the GAVI Partners Forum vaccination conference in Dar es Salaam,
Tanzania, Médecins Sans Frontières has called on Geneva based GAVI Alliance
to open up its negotiated prices to ensure better reach in vaccinating

Press release and issue briefs that highlight the current challenges in
expanding the number of children vaccinated are below.

MSF urges GAVI to extend vaccine prices to humanitarian actors to help
close gap of unvaccinated children

*Dar es Salaam**/ Geneva, 6 December 2012* – The GAVI Alliance should
systematically extend the prices it obtains for vaccines to humanitarian
actors that are often well placed to reach unvaccinated children, the
international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières
(MSF)/ Doctors Without Borders said today at the GAVI Partners Forum
meeting in Tanzania. Currently, humanitarian actors such as MSF are not
able to access these prices, and are left to negotiate access to vaccines
on a cumbersome case-by-case basis.

Official estimates place the number of babies not fully vaccinated in 2011
at 22.4 million, which is equivalent to one in five children born each
year. Through its work in unstable contexts and regions that persistently
lag behind on vaccination, MSF is often close to children who are under- or

“We need to be able to act quickly and provide life-saving vaccines to
vulnerable children as these opportunities arise,” said Florence Fermon,
Head of MSF’s Vaccination Working Group. “We can’t afford unnecessary
delays trying to get hold of vaccines through lengthy negotiations.”

MSF has tried in several places to obtain newer vaccines for use in its
projects. In late 2010 and early 2011, it took MSF more than four months of
negotiations with the Ministry of Health and pharmaceutical company
GlaxoSmithKline to obtain the pneumococcal vaccine for use in its projects
in Kenya. Such delays form a barrier to increasing access to vaccines for
vulnerable children.

MSF has unsuccessfully tried to obtain the pneumococcal vaccine from Pfizer
at the GAVI price.

At the core of the problem is that GAVI brokers deals with pharmaceutical
companies that exclude other actors from accessing the prices. These deals
often involve prices for vaccines that are still high and unaffordable for
countries in the long run.

“We need access to vaccines when we need them, where we need them and at an
affordable price,” said Dr. Manica Balasegaram, Executive Director of MSF’s
Access Campaign. “It’s time for GAVI to wake up and recognize that other
actors vaccinating on the ground need fast and regular access to
life-saving vaccines at the lowest-possible prices.”

*Médecins Sans Frontières at the GAVI Alliance ‘Partners’ Forum’
Vaccination Conference, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 5-7 December 2012*

Three new ISSUE BRIEFS outlining MSF’s main concerns regarding the need for
adapted vaccines, the need to bring vaccine prices down, and the need to
address vaccine supply problems, can be accessed at:

   - Adaptation:
   - Pricing:
   - Supply:

“There’s no reason children should still be dying of vaccine-preventable
diseases. The global vaccines community could be doing a lot better to make
sure all babies in developing countries are fully vaccinated against killer
diseases. We need vaccines that are easier to use in hard-to-reach places.”
Dr. Manica Balasegaram, Executive Director, MSF Access Campaign

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is deeply concerned that the current global
vaccination strategy is not paying enough attention to reaching the one in
five babies born each year that continue to go without the very basic
vaccination package. MSF sees the direct effect of the failures in basic
vaccination when massive outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases emerge
in places where we work. In 2010 in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone,
MSF vaccinated more than four million people for measles in response to
outbreaks that would not be happening if routine immunization were working
well. The global number of babies not fully vaccinated rose from 19 million
in 2010 to 22.4 million in 2012—there’s an urgent need to address this

The approach being taken in the vaccines blueprint being launched for the
next ten years—the ‘Global Vaccine Action Plan’ and ‘Decade of
Vaccines’—does not adequately emphasize the need to strengthen basic
immunization. Developing vaccines that are better adapted to reach children
in remote or unstable locations—vaccines that do not require refrigeration,
do not require needles, and that can be given in fewer doses—is not being
prioritized enough. Better products are needed to alleviate the growing
number of un-immunised children. GAVI should play a role in the development
of adapted products, but to date, it has not done so.

Additionally, GAVI is not paying enough attention to getting vaccine prices
down in its effort to introduce new vaccines, such as for pneumococcal
disease and rotavirus. This could have a devastating impact on countries’
immunization programmes once donor support through GAVI tapers off.
Honduras, for example, will face a nearly 1,000% price increase to
vaccinate a child with these two new vaccines when the country loses donor
funding in 2015. The vaccines blueprint is not making a serious effort to
address the issue of high prices.

Three new ISSUE BRIEFS outlining MSF’s main concerns regarding the need for
adapted vaccines, the need to bring vaccine prices down, and the need to
address vaccine supply problems, can be accessed at: msfaccess.org/briefings

Joanna Keenan
Press Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
E: joanna.keenan[at]geneva.msf.org
T: twitter.com/joanna_keenan


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