Rwanda's immunisation coverage at 99 percent - WHO report

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A nurse at Kagugu Health Centre Immunises pupils of APAPEC IREBERO Primary School. (Timothy Kisambira)

Rwanda’s immunisation coverage stands at 99 per cent, according to a new report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Office for Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

The report was released yesterday at the on-going two-day first ever Ministerial Conference on Immunisation in Africa that run from February 24-25, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The high coverage was attributed to improving routine immunisation and new vaccine introductions.

Briefing journalists about the report, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organisation Regional Director for Africa noted that Africa has increased vaccination coverage in the last decade from 64 per cent in 2004 to 79 per cent in 2014.

“Today more African children than ever are living to celebrate their fifth birthday. Between 2010 and 2015 more than 220 million children and adults in 16 countries received the new vaccines preventing thousands of new cases and deaths. Today meningitis due to group A meningococcus has been virtually eliminated,” said Dr Moeti.

She further said there is need to do more because only nine countries reported immunisation coverage greater than 80 per cent in all districts in 2014.

“One in five children in Africa does not receive basic vaccines. We have the tools, we need to save children’s lives, and all we need is the political will and financial support to deliver. And this week, governments will make these commitments at the highest levels,” Dr Moeti said.

At the conference African countries were urged to increase investments in immunisation, given the economic benefits.

Only 15 African countries fund more than 50 percent of their national immunisation expenditures and Rwanda is one of these countries.

Currently, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has invested heavily in Africa, supporting 70 per cent of countries on the continent (38/54 countries).

As more African countries attain middle-income status, they will not be eligible for support from Gavi. This means that they will have to make preparations to finance immunisation activities from their own national budgets.

During the press briefing, Dr Seth Berkley, the chief executive officer Global Alliance Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) recommended Rwanda’s vaccine and immunisation supply chain.

“At the end of the day it has to be governments that deliver vaccines unlike drugs which can be done by the private sector and different groups, this is about immunising an entire population so it has to be done by governments. We have created a new supply chain centre of excellence. Rwanda just started working along with some private sector companies like in the agricultural services has a lot of experience in logistics and helps to train and strengthen the supply chain,” Dr Berkley said.

The report notes Rwanda’s multi-sector approach to improving health such as incentivising health workers to reach every child in their catchment area and offering immunisation in schools.

Other factors are focusing on health education and broad commitment to strengthening health system.

A ministerial declaration that will be open for signatures during the two day February 24-25, Ministerial Conference on Immunisation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia honours the progress of recent years, while also committing to universal access to immunisation and strengthening of vaccine delivery systems.

After the conference, the declaration will be presented to the Assembly of African Heads of Statesand Governments at the 26th Summit of the African Union, to be held in June in Kigali.

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