[Ip-health] As GAVI meets to examine its progress and look ahead, MSF points to needed policy changes

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Mon Oct 28 08:20:31 PDT 2013

*As GAVI meets to examine its progress and look ahead, MSF points to needed
policy changes*



*Geneva/Stockholm, 28 October 2013 *— Several key policy changes are
urgently needed at the GAVI Alliance to help reduce the number of children
not benefitting from vaccination globally (22.6 million in 2012), the
international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans
Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said ahead of GAVI’s progress
review meeting in Stockholm.

“We fully support GAVI’s mission of bringing new vaccines to children in
developing countries, but we think that GAVI could improve its work in a
number of areas so that more children can be protected from childhood
killers,” said Dr. Manica Balasegaram, Executive Director of MSF’s Access
Campaign. “Humanitarian actors are still not able to access vaccines at the
GAVI price so they can act swiftly in emergencies, vaccine prices overall
are still too expensive for countries to afford long term, and GAVI’s not
doing enough to support the vaccination needs of older children.”

MSF has identified four key areas where changes at GAVI could make an
important difference:

·         *Making GAVI prices available to humanitarian actors: *Currently,
GAVI does not allow humanitarian actors, such as MSF, to access its lowest
global prices so that they can vaccinate populations in crisis that are
otherwise falling through the net. It took 11 months for MSF to navigate
its way through bureaucratic hurdles to finally obtain the pneumococcal
vaccine for use in children in a refugee camp in South Sudan where there
was high child mortality. The fact that GAVI does not include
non-governmental and humanitarian organisations in its price negotiations
has resulted in refugees missing out on the benefits of new vaccines. GAVI
should open its prices to NGOs and urgently move to develop a policy for
facilitating use of new vaccines amongst refugee and crisis-affected

·         *Pushing harder to lower vaccine prices:* The cost to fully
vaccinate a child in the best-case scenario has risen by 2,700% since 2001
(from $1.38 in 2001 to $38.80 today). Concern is growing among countries —
many of which where MSF works — that they will not be able to afford these
prices once they lose GAVI support over time. For example, Congo will lose
GAVI support starting at the end of 2015, and will be forced to pay 20
times more for its new vaccines than it pays for the traditional vaccines.
These high prices jeopardise the sustainability of immunisation programmes
and could force governments to make tough decisions about which childhood
killers they can and cannot afford to protect their children against. GAVI
must do more to bring prices down by negotiating more shrewdly and
transparently with the multinational pharmaceutical companies, and by
helping speed up the market entry of vaccines from emerging producers.

·         *Extending vaccination to children above one year old: *Although
the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends vaccinating children over
11months of age who may have missed their recommended vaccinations, GAVI
today only purchases  vaccines for routine immunisation programs for
children up to one year of age. This means that a child over one year who
arrives at a clinic and hasn’t completed their immunisation series would
not be able to benefit from these life-saving vaccines. This represents a
missed opportunity to fully protect children against childhood killers,
which often results in deadly outbreaks of preventable diseases. GAVI
should revise its support to countries so that they can fully implement WHO

·         *Incentivising development of vaccines that don’t need to be kept
cold the entire time:* Today, the vast majority of vaccines must be kept
between 2-8 degrees C until they reach they child. This requires incredibly
difficult ‘cold chain’ logistics for Ministries of Health and medical
providers like MSF in places where temperatures easily soar above 40
degrees C and where electricity supply is unstable or non-existent. The
MenAfriVac vaccine against meningitis A was recently re-labelled, making it
possible to keep the vaccine at up to 40 degrees C for up to four days,
greatly easing the logistics requirements in hot and remote places. More
research needs to be done to investigate how other vaccines could
potentially follow suit, to make it easier to vaccinate hard-to-reach
children. GAVI must play a more active role in incentivising such efforts
so that easier-to-use vaccines can become available.

“We think GAVI should be commended for many of its accomplishments over the
last decade, but we also think it’s very important for GAVI to take a close
and critical look at what it can improve going forward”, said Kate Elder,
Vaccines Policy Advisor at MSF’s Access Campaign. “We believe an ambitious,
inclusive GAVI that will fight hard to shape markets, products and prices,
is essential in helping the world meet its immunisation targets and
preventing disease in the most vulnerable.”

- ends -

*MSF vaccinated nearly 700,000 people for measles and nearly 500,000 for
meningitis in 2012.*


Joanna Keenan
Press Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
P: +41 22 849 87 45
M: +41 79 203 13 02
E: joanna.keenan[at]geneva.msf.org
T: twitter.com/joanna_keenan



More information about the Ip-health mailing list