[Ip-health] Decade of Vaccines blueprint lacks ambition and ignores high prices

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Thu Jan 24 02:19:31 PST 2013

'Decade of Vaccines’ blueprint ignores high vaccine prices and lacks
ambition on better-adapted vaccines


Geneva, 24 January 2013—Governments meeting at the World Health
Organization’s Executive Board (WHO EB) this week must seize the
opportunity to improve serious shortcomings in the document that will drive
the global community’s vaccines response in the next few years.  If they
fail to do so, key reasons why children continue to be missed by
immunisation programmes will be left unaddressed.

Countries are discussing the monitoring and evaluation framework that will
assess the success and steer the activities of the ‘Global Vaccine Action
Plan’. Although high vaccine prices pose a considerable threat to the
sustainability of vaccine programmes, the framework does not include any
measures to monitor prices at all.

“The cost of vaccinating a child has risen by 2,700 percent over the last
decade, so it is puzzling that the vaccines blueprint for the next decade
does not have a goal to bring prices down,” said Dr.ManicaBalasegaram,
Executive Director of MSF’s Access Campaign. “Governments in countries
where we work are increasingly worried about how they will foot the bill
for vaccines when donor support tapers off.A strong pricing indicator would
show at a minimum that legitimate concerns about pricing are being taken

In 2001, the cost of vaccinating a child was US$1.37 for the basic vaccines
package with BCG, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and measles. With
the addition of more vaccines, and particularlytwo new vaccines against
pneumococcal disease and rotavirus—which together account for nearly 75% of
the cost of vaccinating a child—the cost per child has risen to $38.80 at
best, with many countries paying much higher prices.

“Much more attention needs to be paid to getting vaccine prices down, for
example by speeding up the market entry of emerging producers which would
foster competition.  The ‘Decade of Vaccines’ is expected to cost around
$50 billion, and the cost of the vaccines themselves will swallow a large
chunk of that money.  Simply ignoring this fact is not on,” said

Equally alarming is the action plan’s lack of ambition when it comes to
tackling the fact that many vaccines are ill-suited for use in developing
countries today.  Over the last five years, 112  million children did not
even receive the basic vaccine package to protect from childhood killers,
in large part because today’s vaccines are difficult to use in remote or
rural areas (e.g. they must be kept cold, require trained health workers to
administer injections, or must be given in multiple doses requiring several
clinic visits).

Despite the urgency of the need, the action plan has an un-ambitious goal
of only one new adapted vaccination technology in use by 2020, even though
several new technologies to deliver vaccines – for example, in a
needle-free way (through a mask or with air pressure) – are on the cusp of
receiving WHO quality approval.

“Even for an organisation with the logistical clout as MSF, vaccinating
children in hard-to-reach places, with vaccines that need to be kept cold
is a serious challenge and it means children are falling through the net,”
said Kate Elder, Vaccines Policy Advisor for MSF’s Access Campaign. “We
need more products that make vaccinating children easier.  We need a clear
signal that this is a critical objective for the next ten years.”

- ends -

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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