Gavi and lower income countries launch drive to reach more than 100M children

Africa Science News

Amid an increase in global measles outbreaks and mortalities, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is working with governments, communities and partners to reach up to 100M children with Measles and Rubella Vaccines in 2024 through catch-up and follow-up campaigns. This represents 22 country applications approved to-date that are aiming for campaigns in 2024.

Countries expected to roll out in 2024 include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.

Timely, high coverage campaigns reaching un- and under-immunised children are key to closing growing immunity gaps, particularly in fragile and conflict settings. The ambitious target comes at a time when there has been an alarming rise in cases, outbreaks and mortalities following pandemic-related drops in vaccine coverage.

Globally, routine immunisation coverage for the first dose of Measles Containing Vaccine (MCV1) is still 2pp below pre-pandemic levels and recent data published by WHO-CDC shows that from December 2022 to November 2023, 51 countries experienced large or disruptive measles outbreaks, compared with 33 countries in 2022. Of the countries that experienced recent outbreaks, 26 were on the African continent.

Countries that have already launched preventive measles and rubella campaigns in 2024 include Eritrea, Nepal, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Mali, as well as Sudan which is rolling out an MR introduction campaign amid an ongoing conflict.

In the current strategic period (2021-2025), Gavi Alliance’s total investment in Measles and Rubella for the 5.1 period (2021-2025) is US$753m.

The funds are allocated to providing countries with support for their routine immunization (including the introduction of a second dose of measles or MR and the introduction of rubella containing vaccine) as well as for the implementation of preventive campaigns, and outbreak response through the Measles & Rubella Partnership’s Outbreak Response Fund.

In December 2023, Gavi’s Board in recognition of the need for exceptional support to countries to close immunity gaps created during the COVID-19 pandemic, approved an initial amount of US$ 290 million to provide fully funded doses for the “Big catch-up” to help countries catch-up children who missed routine vaccinations including measles and rubella.

In addition, Gavi has been working with partners to support countries with decision-making on switches to 5-dose vials, which can reduce health care workers’ hesitation to open a vial and both increase coverage and reduce wastage in certain contexts.

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