Invest more in vaccine safety: African governments told
There is need for dedicated human resources for vaccine safety for regulatory agencies and immunization programmes.
During a working dinner held on March 23, 2017 to discuss the Global Vaccine Safety Initiative (GVSI) policy makers urged national governments to put more effort on national data system for monitoring vaccine safety, proactive communication about safety issues in support of all immunization policies.
Addressing about 80 participants including AU Member States and delegates, senior level officials from African Union Commission, partners, and other guests, the World Health Organization emphasized the need for commitment to international information exchange.
During his presentation, Dr. Patrick Zuber, World Health Organization-Head Quarters emphasized the need for robust vaccine safety surveillance system. In addition, he indicated that increasing immunization coverage and adding new vaccines to the programmes call for the need to demonstrative capacity to monitoring the safety of these vaccines and to have stronger safety systems.
The meeting aimed to enforce African countries to ensure strong vaccine safety systems. It also intended to provide the vision for a future where vaccine safety concerns are addressed in a rigorous and transparent fashion and share perspectives on 21st century approaches that are relevant to African Countries.
The Global Vaccine Safety Initiative (GVSI) is a global transformative approach for quality immunization programmes which was launched in 2012. To date, WHO considers that less than half of its Member States including most African countries have adequate capacity for vaccine safety. It is in this context that the WHO brief was organized and called on the highest leadership in Africa to ensure strong vaccine safety system.
Dr Margaret Agama-Anyetei from the African Union Commission highlighted how vaccine has brought enormous benefits to the populations of Africa. Dr Margaret stated that “The eradication of smallpox, the gains made in the eradication of polio or the dramatic reductions in deaths of measles and epidemic meningitis are many successes that we have all witnessed.” She added that “Today more vaccines against more diseases, including malaria, dengue or Ebola are becoming available and new funding mechanisms allow for those vaccines to be used more widely in African countries.”
WHO Representative to Ethiopia Dr. Abebayehu Assefa Mengistu said: “The Global Vaccine Safety Initiative provides the mechanism to strengthen African countries regulatory authorities and immunization programs to ensure that everyone everywhere gets the safest vaccination possible.” He added that “Credible data and our ability to explain how existing safety systems protect the quality of our vaccination programs is the best approach to counter the impact of doubt or malicious statements and rumors.”