Shaping the immunisation plan for the coming decade at the WHO Executive Board
I am sitting with Louise (our Advocacy Adviser in the Newborn and Child Survival Team) as observers to the World Health Organization Executive Board meeting in Geneva, where the agenda for the World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting in May is set.
At last year’s WHA, Bill Gates launched the Decade of Vaccines Collaboration (DoVC) – an initiative to accelerate progress towards universal access to immunisation, through the development and implementation of a Global Vaccines Action Plan (GVAP). This will outline the priorities and guiding principles for immunisation over the coming decade.
A statement from civil society
The draft of the GVAP is to be discussed this afternoon, and we plan to make a statement to the members of the board on behalf of Save the Children UK and the 230 organisations that constitute the GAVI Civil Society Constituency.
Below are some of the key points from our statement on the process, content and implementation of the GVAP:
We are grateful to the Secretariat of the DoVC for the inclusive consultative process during the development of the GVAP, with civil society represented on the Steering Committee, on one of the working groups, and invited to input into consultations both in person and online.
Save the Children has been – and will continue to be – closely involved in this process to try to influence the content of the GVAP. Until the 1 February, all stakeholders are invited to contribute to an online consultation and we urge you to do so too.
After the plan is finalised and launched at the WHA in May, it is vital that civil society remains involved in the process to decide how the GVAP will be implemented.
There is no doubt that immunisation is a crucial component of integrated packages of essential healthcare. Achieving universal coverage will require both demand- and supply-side efforts; only by empowering populations and strengthening health systems will this be sustainable.
It is essential that the GVAP preserves, promotes and practices fundamental principles of universality, equity, quality, accountability and sustainability.
The draft GVAP acknowledges the importance of unreached populations within countries. As the unimmunised increasingly reside in middle-income countries, targeted strategies must be employed in such contexts within a conducive global environment.
Inequities within countries plague progress towards the Millennium Development Goals; addressing such discrepancies must be a central tenet of any post-2015 agenda.
At present, the GVAP is an undoubtedly important yet aspirational plan. How it will be put into practice is yet to be clarified, but it will certainly require a robust accountability framework and this should be sympathetic to aid effectiveness principles.
It is essential that countries take ownership of the GVAP so that its principles and objectives are reflected in domestic health and immunisation strategies. For this, it is vital that various departments of government, parliament and civil society are all actively involved to ensure full understanding of the importance and implications of the GVAP.
For accountability, synergies may be drawn with the recommendations of the Commission on Information and Accountability to improve health information systems, use evidence to inform policy, and strengthen national accountability platforms with wide stakeholder representation.
Finally, the World Health Organization must remain at the core of the GVAP development and implementation, as the normative lead in global health governance.