News / Africa

    Researchers: Immunization Efforts Falling Short

    The Vaccines for Africa Initiative is based at the University of Cape Town.The Vaccines for Africa Initiative is based at the University of Cape Town.
    x
    The Vaccines for Africa Initiative is based at the University of Cape Town.
    The Vaccines for Africa Initiative is based at the University of Cape Town.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Joe DeCapua
    Researchers said that despite progress immunizing African children against disease, vaccination efforts are falling far short of what’s needed. They warn that vaccine supply and cost need urgent attention.


    University of Cape Town researchers say there are “failures within the immunization system.” 

    “Well, there’s a very wide range if you look at African countries in terms of performance of immunization programs. Some are doing very well and others are doing very badly. So this disparity is a very big concern,” said Shingai Machingaidze, associate researcher at the university’s Vaccines for Africa Initiative.

    Similar problems exist in developing countries outside Africa, as well.

    “For the countries that are not doing so well in terms of their vaccine coverage it means that large numbers of children do not get basic vaccinations before they reach one year. 1.5 million vaccine preventable disease deaths were recorded in 2010,” she said.

    Professor Gregory Hussey, director of the Vaccines for Africa Initiative, said that polio, which had been on the verge of eradication, remains entrenched in some places.

    University of Cape Town Professor Gregory Hussey speaking at the first International African Vaccinology Conference, November 2012University of Cape Town Professor Gregory Hussey speaking at the first International African Vaccinology Conference, November 2012
    x
    University of Cape Town Professor Gregory Hussey speaking at the first International African Vaccinology Conference, November 2012
    University of Cape Town Professor Gregory Hussey speaking at the first International African Vaccinology Conference, November 2012
    “There’s a worldwide move to eradicate polio in the next five to 10 years. The stumbling blocks in Africa are in fact [in] Nigeria where there’s continued transmission of polio because of sub-optimal uptake of polio vaccine," he said. "And I’m sure you’re aware of the fact that the people refusing to immunize their children for a list of reasons – religious, political, etcetera, etcetera.”

    The World Health Organization had said after polio immunization was disrupted in northern Nigeria several years ago, that particular strain of the virus spread all the way to Ethiopia.

    Continued outbreaks of measles, Hussey said, are another example of immunization system failure.

    “With our porous borders in Africa disease can spread from one place to another place, especially if children are not being immunized properly,” he said.

    Hussey said that while various U.N. and international agencies have campaigns advocating immunization, Africa lacked a home-grown program to do so.

    “We started this Vaccines for Africa Initiative precisely to try to make people more aware of issues around vaccine and immunization practices. And this includes not only the individuals who are delivering the vaccines, the healthcare workers, but also the policymakers, as well as communities, who should be receiving the vaccines,” he said.

    A major obstacle to effective immunization is the cost of vaccines. For example, more countries are starting to introduce vaccines against pneumonia and diarrheal disease – two of the leading killers of young children.

    Hussey said, “You’re looking at pushing up the price from a few dollars up to about $58. And that’s way beyond the per capita health expenditure of most countries in Africa, which probably is around about $10 to $20 per person.”

    An international public-private partnership, the GAVI Alliance, plays a major role in helping developing countries introduce vaccines. GAVI negotiates with pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of a vaccine dose. But Hussey warned that cheaper prices for vaccines won’t last forever. 

    “Once they sort of graduate from GAVI they still will have to purchase those vaccines. So there are a number of countries that are going to graduate in the next year or two and that’s a problem for them," he said. "Because how to they then fund the supply of those vaccines?”

    He said that some countries that can afford the vaccines on their own have not made child health a priority.

    The University of Cape Town researchers say, “African leaders must be held accountable for meeting agreed country immunization targets and honoring international commitments.”

    Last November, the first International African Vaccinology Conference was held in Cape Town, South Africa where participants adopted the Cape Town Declaration. Among other things it called for strengthening childhood immunization programs; encouraging regional co-operation; strengthening purchasing power by pooling resources and ensuring African governments commit to saving children's lives.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora