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African leaders commit to universal immunisation coverage

A mass vaccination campaign held at the entry point in Burbeiy village of Gambella region.

African Heads of State endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunisation (ADI) at the 28th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the end of January.

This is a historic commitment from the highest level of government towards universal immunisation coverage.

Progress in the coverage of immunisation services in Africa has been impressive, with 76% of children now receiving basic vaccinations – a 23% increase over the last decade.

However, despite tremendous gains, progress has plateaued and one in five African children is still missing out on this critical health intervention.

Further, fairer, faster

Our recent report, Further, Faster, Fairer, shows that huge inequalities in coverage within countries lead to children from the poorest households, from certain ethnic groups, living in neglected areas of a country, and affected by conflict and emergencies being excluded from accessing basic immunisation.

The ADI comes at a critical time. Political commitment and strengthened domestic investment is needed more urgently than ever to strengthen routine immunisation and other essential health services to ensure they are in reach of every last child.

This is necessary to accelerate equitable progress and ensure the sustainability of immunisation programmes. It is particularly important for countries as they transition from development aid, including from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Strong political commitment

The strong political commitment towards universal immunisation coverage is clear.

Governments committed to this in 2012 through their endorsement of the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) and in February 2016 when Ministers or heads of delegation from 49 African countries first signed the ADI at the Ministerial Conference on Immunisation in Africa.

The recent adoption of the ADI now by Heads of State demonstrates the highest-level commitment to advance this goal of universal immunisation coverage – as envisioned by the GVAP and the ADI.

Now it’s time to turn commitment into action and step up progress to deliver on the goals.

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