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Pan-African Parliament readies for immunisation

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By Richard Chirombo:

LIFE-SAVING— Immunisation

Continental body, Pan-African Parliament, has taken a giant step in its efforts to promote immunisation as a disease-prevention measure, adopting a resolution to establish an African Parliamentarian Caucus on Immunisation.

The move, taken end May, is expected to drive forward the body’s commitment to increase immunisation rates across the continent and comes at a time immunisation rates are said to have stagnated.

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Parliamentarians also expressed their commitment to achieving universal health coverage in Africa by 2030 and contributed their perspectives on each country’s unique pathway to attaining health for all.

“Immunisation rates across Africa have stagnated around 74 percent in recent years and one in five children in Africa still does not have access to all the necessary and basic vaccines a child should receive,” a statement from the continental body reads.

It adds that more than 30 million children younger than five years in Africa fall sick due to vaccine-preventable diseases. Of them, more than half a million die – representing 56 percent of the global deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases.

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Pan-African Parliament President, Roger Nkodo Dang, said this is a step in the right direction.

“Expanding access to immunisation will help lay the foundation for universal health coverage across Africa, a cause which the Pan-African Parliament strongly supports,” he said.

Meanwhile, World Health Organisation Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, has welcomed the development.

“The World Health Organisation welcomes the Pan- African Parliament’s resolution to establish a caucus dedicated to strengthening immunisation across Africa. The high cost of disease outbreaks we have witnessed across the continent – in human suffering and economic damage – points to the urgent need for political leadership and collective action to ensure that everyone across Africa has access to basic health services,” he said.

In a related development, the 2019 Reach (Recognising Excellence around Champions of Health) awards are open for nominations to recognise frontline health workers and innovators who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and commitment to eliminate global diseases.

The awards were established by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and will be presented at the Reaching the Last Mile Forum in Abu Dhabi in November.

The 2019 Reach Awards will be judged by a jury of prominent leaders from across global health disciplines.

The call for nominations for the 2019 Reach Awards was launched at the World Health Assembly in Geneva. Nominations can be made in three categories at www. reachingthelastmile.com and must be submitted by July 12 2019.

Past awardees include former United States president Jimmy Carter and health workers from Nigeria and South Sudan, working to combat malaria and Guinea Worm disease.

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