Marking World AIDS Day, GAVI Alliance Board Wednesday reiterated the significant role infant vaccination can play in protecting HIV-infected children and adults from opportunistic bacterial infections as well as other fatal diseases.
In a statement, the alliance recognized the progress made by developing countries in the fight against HIV/AIDS and expressed unity and support to all those working to reduce mother-to-child transmission.
“These vaccines will help protect children from infection and reduce deaths of children born with HIV,” the statement read.
“All of us on the GAVI Board passionately believe in every child’s right to health and in ensuring the best possible start in life,” Mary Robinson, the outgoing Chair of GAVI said.
“Rwanda is a good example of a country showing real leadership in public health and it is making major strides in reducing paediatric HIV infection.”
The Minister of Health, Richard Sezibera, who represents developing countries on the GAVI Board, urged global advocates to ensure that all children be born HIV free.
“If we all work together, we can achieve zero paediatric infections by 2015,” Sezibera said.
GAVI also commended Rwanda for providing all pregnant women with free testing services, anti-retroviral drugs and follow up services for children born to HIV-positive mothers.
“Figures from UNAIDS show infections of children born to HIV-positive mothers have dropped 24% in five years,” GAVI states.
“The percentage of HIV-positive women who receive treatment to prevent the transmission of the virus to their child increased from 35% in 2007 to more than 50% in 2009.”
In recent years, public-private partnerships like GAVI and The Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria have engaged in global health programs, especially in Africa.
During the GAVI Board Meeting in Kigali in August this year, the alliance confirmed its intention to roll out vaccines that will tackle pneumonia in over 40 countries by 2015.