Seth Berkley highlights 19 million children missing out on vaccines

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GAVI CEO's speech to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases focuses on need for equity in vaccine coverage

Dr Seth Berkley and Dr Anthony Fauci, NIAID May 2012

Dr Seth Berkley, GAVI CEO, and Dr Anthony Fauci, Director NIAID, during the John Ring LaMontagne Memorial Lecture. Source: GAVI/2012.

Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 22 May 2012 - GAVI CEO Seth Berkley emphasised the importance of getting vaccines to those who need them most in a keynote speech at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) on Tuesday.

Speaking three weeks before the United States will join Ethiopia and India in hosting the Child Survival Call to Action, Dr. Berkley pointed out that while child mortality declined at a rate of 2.5% between 2000 and 2010, 7.6 million children still die before their fifth birthday and the rate of unimmunised children around the world remains unacceptably high.

Missing out

“There’s lots of good news on the power of vaccines but 19 million children are still missing out,” said Dr. Berkley, delivering the John Ring LaMontagne Memorial Lecture.

The lecture is named after a former friend and colleague of Dr. Berkley’s who was Deputy Director of NIAID and an expert in infectious diseases and global public health issues; they also collaborated on the Children’s Vaccine Initiative, a precursor of GAVI.

Equity

As new vaccines become more broadly available, improving coverage rates becomes more urgent, particularly within countries where disparities exist between rich and poor and urban and rural populations.

“How do we make sure there’s equity in the distribution of these vaccines?” Dr. Berkley asked.

GAVI support for new vaccines

In addition to GAVI’s continued focus on pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines to address the top childhood killers, the Alliance is supporting countries to introduce new vaccines.

This year for the first time, countries may apply for GAVI support to provide the combined measles-rubella (MR) vaccine. Between 2013 and 2018, 49 countries are expected to receive support to introduce MR vaccine.

Dr. Berkley pointed out that while there has been a dramatic decline in measles mortality rate since 2000, measles outbreaks are on the rise globally.

He also highlighted the disease burden posed by rubella and Congenital Rubella Syndrome as an opportunity to improve health and save lives in the developing world. An estimated 112,000 cases of CRS occur globally each year, 90,000 of which are in GAVI-eligible countries.

Challenges and opportunities

There’s lots of good news on the power of vaccines but 19 million children are still missing out

Dr.Seth Berkley, GAVI CEO

Even with the challenges of bringing vaccines to more places, vaccines such as HPV present huge opportunities and a model for how an HIV vaccine could be rolled out once it’s available.

In order to receive GAVI support for introducing HPV vaccine, countries must show that they can deliver the vaccine successfully or launch pilot projects.

GAVI will also collaborate with groups that work on reproductive health and cancer control to ensure that the HPV vaccine is part of an integrated approach to improving adolescent girls’ health.

More on this topic

168 million

GAVI-supported vaccine campaigns have resulted in 100 million individuals being immunised against meningitis A and 68 million against yellow fever since 2000.

Meningitis A Conjugate Vaccine Immunizaton Campaign. Joint WHO/UNICEF 2011 Progress Report: January to December 2012. March 2013, p.3 | 2011 data. Yellow Fever Initiative. Joint WHO and UNICEF 2011 Progress Report Nov 2012, p.13, 15. 2012 data: Based on data from Epidemiology of Yellow Fever in the African Region: 2012 report. WHO Regional Office for Africa. April 2013, p.6.

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