Vaccination is among the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, banishing feared diseases from the lives of those fortunate enough to be immunized. But 1.5 million children continue to die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.
The Global Vaccine Action Plan
The Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) is a framework to end that inequity and extend the benefits of vaccination to everyone, regardless of where they are born.
Approved by the World Health Assembly in May 2012, GVAP is the global vaccine community’s roadmap for the Decade of Vaccines. The plan received support from stakeholders involved in immunization, including governments and elected officials, health professionals, academia, manufacturers, global agencies, development partners, civil society, media and the private sector.
GVAP includes six strategic objectives for the Decade of Vaccines, which ends in 2020.
GVAP’s guiding principles of country ownership, shared responsibility, equity, integration, sustainability and innovation inform these overarching strategic objectives.
Status on GVAP Targets
GVAP set six targets for 2015, but only one of these was on track as of the end of 2014 – the introduction of new and under-utilized vaccines. Several new vaccines, including pneumococcal, rotavirus and human papillomavirus, have been introduced in recent years and their coverage have risen rapidly, keeping pace with the target of at least 90 low- or middle-income countries having introduced one or more new or under-utilized vaccine by 2015.
The other five targets are off track. More than 22 million children still remain unvaccinated; measles, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) have yet to be eliminated. In 2014, a resurgence of polio prompted WHO to declare a public health emergency, and the world missed the GVAP target of no new cases after 2014. The disease is still endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In a 2015 report, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) noted that the isolated improvements seen in some countries “will have to become the norm if the plan is to get back on track.” The report puts particular emphasis on building accountability at the regional, national and subnational levels, with support from partners.
Unless countries improve and expand their vaccination systems, we will fail to ensure that children around the world receive the basic, inexpensive, life-saving vaccines that parents in other parts of the world take for granted.
How Sabin Supports GVAP
The Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Vaccine Advocacy and Education programs support GVAP at the country level through several pathways:
Sabin’s Sustainable Immunization Financing (SIF) program works with lower- and lower-middle income countries to establish sustainable, predictable financing of their immunization programs — a goal which corresponds to country ownership. Countries achieve sustainable immunization financing by developing new domestic funding sources, implementing budget line items for immunization, improving immunization budget management and enacting new laws assuring public funding for immunization programs. SIF documents and disseminates data on countries’ progress in prioritizing immunization and establishing predictable funding for their programs. SIF also organizes high-level GVAP briefings in SIF countries and encourages immunization managers to integrate the GVAP objectives into annual program work plans.
The International Association of Immunization Managers (IAIM), founded in 2013, provides a forum for immunization managers to share best practices, participate in peer-to-peer learning and develop their managerial and leadership capacity in order to improve the performance of immunization programs.
Sabin’s meningococcal, rotavirus, rubella and pneumococcal advocacy activities encourage accelerated vaccine introduction within countries, leverage new research to improve disease estimates, and convene stakeholders around the world to discuss relevant research that will inform public health agendas — all with the aim of delivering universal access to these vaccines.
In addition, the Dengue Vaccine Initiative (DVI) is working to expedite new vaccine introduction by laying the groundwork in endemic areas so that, once licensed, vaccines to prevent dengue will be swiftly adopted. The Coalition against Typhoid (CaT) is addressing global policy barriers by providing evidence for the use of licensed typhoid conjugate vaccines and generating discussions for epidemiological research and vaccine development for salmonella paratyphi and non-typhoidal salmonella infections. Sabin is also working to assess and strengthen the laboratory capacity for diagnosis of pertussis. And Sabin advocates for policies and resources to support effective measles and rubella immunization programs and practices as a member of the Measles and Rubella Initiative.