The fight against yellow fever - a global mobilisation for Sub-Saharan Africa

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AMP and partners convene first seminar-workshop in Bamako, Mali, to organise fight against yellow fever in Central and Western Africa

Agency for Preventive Medicine (AMP) release 

Bamako, Mali, 13 December 2006 - Faced with very high risks of yellow fever epidemics in eight Central and Western African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mali, Senegal and Togo), the GAVI Alliance1 partners are launching a strategy and plan to fight the disease.

To support this plan and harmonise the organisation of effective preventive vaccination campaigns against yellow fever, the Agence de Médecine Préventive (AMP - Agency for Preventive Medicine) is organising a first seminar-workshop to train health leaders of the eight countries with a high risk for epidemics. The seminar-workshop is taking place from December 11 to 15, 2006, at the Charles Mérieux Center of the Mérieux Foundation in Bamako (Mali).

In 2005, 206,000 cases of yellow fever were reported in 12 African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo), causing an estimated 52,000 deaths. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that between 2006 and 2050, yellow fever epidemics will kill between 1.5 and 2.7 million people if no preventive vaccinations are done.

There is no treatment for the disease, which is deadly in 20 to 50 percent of cases. A safe vaccine is available and it confers lasting protection with just one shot.

According to Philippe Stoeckel, President of the AMP: "It is important to remember that between 1934 and 1953, yellow fever, which was responsible for devastating annual epidemics, was eliminated from West-Francophone Africa and Togo thanks to the systematic preventive vaccination of the population. When these campaigns ended, the yellow fever epidemics returned."

The partners of this major event are the AMP, WHO, UNICEF, and the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, with the support of the "Access to Medicine Initiative" of the sanofi-aventis Group and its vaccine branch, sanofi pasteur, as well as the Mérieux Foundation.

For the sanofi-aventis Group: "The responsibility of industry should extend beyond merely making medicines or vaccines available. Dr. Charles Mérieux used to talk of 'vaccinology.' Within this term he included vaccine production; vaccine distribution, including cold chain-related issues as well as distribution of vaccines; the specific training of vaccination teams; the epidemiological aspects of diseases; etc… The involvement of sanofi-aventis and sanofi pasteur in this Yellow Fever Programme shows that the Group entirely believes in this global concept of its role."

"Yellow fever continues to have a devastating impact on many African nations, even though a safe vaccine has existed for many years. Today we have the opportunity and responsibility to close this gap between those who can afford vaccination and those who cannot. We have to ensure that each African child is protected from this threat; it is a matter of equity. GAVI supports the major efforts underway to increase yellow fever vaccination and introduce it into routine infant immunisation programs in countries at risk. GAVI is committed to working with all ours partners, both globally and in the field, to ensure that we defeat the yellow fever threat in Africa. We must not miss this opportunity for common action and success," commented Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary of the GAVI Alliance.

The Seminar-Workshop in Bamako (December 11-15, 2006): an important first step in the organisation of the fight against yellow fever 

The seminar-workshop in Bamako entitled "Planning and organisation of preventive vaccine campaigns against yellow fever," will provide training for 56 health officials2 engaged in the fight against yellow fever in eight of the 12 priority countries in Central and Western Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mali, Senegal and Togo.)

The seminar-workshop is held from December 11-15, 2006, in the Charles Mérieux Center in Bamako, under the auspices of the Minister of Health of Mali.

Upon completion of the seminar-workshop, the country teams will have acquired the methodology and tools necessary to:

  • Develop an action plan for the organisation of quality preventive vaccination campaigns;
  • Create a financial plan for the campaigns;
  • Document the campaigns (evaluation of vaccination coverage, activity report and follow-up of adverse events.)

Post-seminar-workshop follow-up of about one year is planned, to accompany the set-up of preventive vaccination campaigns in these countries. This technical support will be provided by WHO, UNICEF and the AMP.

Overcoming yellow fever in Africa: launching preventive vaccination campaigns 

WHO and UNICEF are recommending the following strategy:

  • Introduction of yellow fever vaccine in infant vaccine calendars starting at 9 months of age;
  • Carrying out preventive vaccination campaigns to obtain rapid immunity in populations in high-risk zones;
  • Epidemiological monitoring and counter-attack to epidemics.

To implement this strategy, the GAVI Alliance Board decided, in December 2005, to support the distribution of yellow fever vaccines and to finance 50 percent of the operational costs of preventive vaccination campaigns.

PARTNERS IN THE ORGANISATION OF PREVENTIVE VACCINATION CAMPAIGNS AGAINST YELLOW FEVER 

GAVI Alliance
www.gavialliance.org 

WHO (World Health Organisation)
www.who.int 

UNICEF (The United Nations Children's Fund)
www.unicef.org 

sanofi-aventis
www.sanofi-aventis.com 

sanofi pasteur
www.sanofipasteur.fr 

AMP (Agence de Médecine Préventive - Agency for Preventive Medicine)
www.aamp.org 

Institut Pasteur de Dakar
www.pasteur.sn 

(1) Formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization
(2) Ministries of health: heads of the Expanded Program on Immunization(EPI), of the EPI Information Education and Communication, of the EPI budget,of the Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response - WHO and UNICEF country offices: Disease Control and Prevention focal points, EPI and Vaccination.

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