Global immunization experts have urged African countries to strengthen their routine immunization coverage.
The experts made the call during the biannual Regional Immunization Technical Advisory Group (RITAG) meeting in Brazzaville, Congo.
They said that over the past five years, immunization coverage in sub-Saharan Africa has stagnated at 72%, exposing populations to vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks.
A statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday said the immunization experts also emphasized the importance of increased domestic investment in disease surveillance and the need for community engagement to drive vaccine deployment during outbreaks.
“The regional experts’ meeting presented a unique opportunity to assess current and future immunization needs in Africa,” said RITAG Chair, Professor Helen Rees. “We have mapped out what can and must be done to secure the future of millions of children on this continent.”
In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 31 million children younger than 5 years suffer from vaccine-preventable diseases every year. More than a half million of them die due to lack of access to the vaccines they needed.