Fourteen days into a month-long campaign to call attention on immunisation, civil society across Africa join global efforts to call for continued vigilance to polio, routine immunisation programs and stronger health systems.
Polio cases have been reduced by 99,9% worldwide since 1988. Fewer than 40 cases worldwide were reported for all of 2016, thanks to the 10-billion doses of oral polio vaccine that have been administered since 2000.
“We cannot rest until polio transmission is interrupted and there are zero cases for at least three consecutive years,” says Salisu Musa Muhammad, deputy director at Community Health and Research Initiative in Nigeria, as they have been actively calling the attention of the government performance on budgeting in immunisation.
One of three countries still endemic for polio Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, one is in Africa. Although Nigeria has not reported any cases of polio since the August 2016 outbreak, it is possible that the polio virus is continuing to spread undetected in the Lake Chad region given ongoing inaccessibility, surveillance gaps and a fluid security situation. To stop the outbreak and respond to the ongoing risk in the area, Nigeria and neighbouring countries have implemented large-scale vaccination campaigns.
“Global and national efforts to eradicate polio have been significant and sustained. This is why we are so close,” says Boubacar Sylla, co-ordinator of the civil society platform POSSAV in Guinea. “However, today as with the eradication of polio, comes the timely reduction of resources allocated to polio.
“Polio resources have, for many countries, supported the cost of routine immunisation and strengthened health services. With the resources allocated to polio reducing, countries will have to ensure that they increase their support to routine immunisation.”
In January 2017, African Heads of States endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunisation, through which they acknowledged that despite their endorsement of the Global Vaccine Action Plan, they are largely off track. The ADI reinforces their commitment at the highest level of political engagement.
These political commitments have to turn into adequate policies as well as concrete budget allocations in order to achieve universal access to immunisation. To ensure that this time, countries get or stay on tract, civil society organisations will continue to track the vaccines, the finances and the legislation.
The 33 days to Power Up Immunisation campaign is a continuation of what was started with the Africa Vaccination Week and World Health Assembly.