Ministers of Health from 194 countries at the Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly in Geneva endorsed a landmark Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), a roadmap to prevent millions of deaths by 2020 through more equitable access to existing vaccines for people in all communities.
The GVAP was coordinated by the Decade of Vaccines Collaboration, a group of leading international vaccine experts, and represents the collective vision of hundreds of global health stakeholders to extend the full benefits of immunisation to all people, regardless of where they are born, who they are, or where they live.
Currently, four out of every five children receive at least a basic set of vaccinations during infancy that allows them to lead healthy, productive lives. However, this means 20% of children still do not benefit from basic immunisation.
The plan is expected to reduce global childhood mortality, surpassing the targets of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal 4, and involves four mutually reinforcing goals:
- strengthening routine immunisation to meet vaccination coverage targets,
- accelerating control of vaccine-preventable diseases with polio eradication as the first milestone,
- introducing new and improved vaccines, and
- spurring research and development for the next generation of vaccines and technologies.
"The Global Vaccine Action Plan focuses on the health needs of people at all stages of life," said Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General for Family, Women's and Children's Health of the World Health Organization. "The plan promotes greater coordination and synergies between immunisation and other child, adolescent and reproductive health interventions leading to healthier communities everywhere."
Following this approval by the World Health Assembly, the GVAP will be adapted for implementation at the regional and country level. Country involvement in this process reinforces a key tenet of the GVAP, which is to increase national ownership of immunisation programs. The collaboration will also establish a monitoring and evaluation framework and finalise estimates for funding needs.