TBILISI, GEORGIA — March 1, 2017 — Today, the Sabin Vaccine Institute and the Government of Georgia assembled senior officials from Armenia, Georgia and Moldova to develop legislative roadmaps that will support the sustainability of national immunization programs to protect more than 16.6 million people.

As low- or middle-income countries, many countries in Eastern Europe received significant support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to purchase vaccines for their citizens. National immunization programs in Eastern Europe have reduced vaccine-preventable disease and improved quality of life. For instance, recent introductions of rotavirus vaccines have led to rapid reductions in hospitalizations in Armenia and Moldova, and have contributed to a 68 percent average decrease in child mortality from diarrheal disease in Armenia, Georgia and Moldova between 2000 and 2015.

However, due to their rising national incomes, Armenia, Georgia and Moldova will soon be ineligible for Gavi support. These countries must transition to independent management and financing of immunization with domestic resources. Failure to continue these Gavi-supported immunization programs by shielding them from competing domestic priorities endangers citizens’ health by risking the extraordinary public health benefits provided by current immunization programs.

As countries transition away from Gavi support, they must provide leadership to finance and deliver universal routine immunization services. Legislation is one of the most effective mechanisms that countries can use to maintain reliable access to immunization services, demonstrate political will and keep vaccination coverage rates high. By bringing together more than 30 delegates from Armenia, Georgia and Moldova, this workshop enables policy makers to exchange best practices for strengthening national immunization systems as their countries increasingly assume ownership for their immunization programs.

“Now is a critical time to act and create legislative protections, before these countries take on full self-financing and country ownership of their immunization programs,” said Amy Finan, chief executive officer of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “Gavi has helped prevent more than eight million future deaths by immunizing more than half a billion children around the world. Immunization legislation can help protect these gains. Sabin’s workshops bring together world-renowned experts who provide global and regional context to help inform country delegates as they create plans to achieve legislative improvements in their countries.”

Since 2009, Sabin’s Sustainable Immunization Financing Program has worked with 22 countries to take long-term financial ownership over their immunization programs. With Sabin’s technical support and guidance, these countries have developed and implemented institutional solutions such as legislation, domestic advocacy coalitions and financial management practices to secure sustainable ownership of their immunization programs. A guiding principle of the global effort to deliver universal access to immunization is that it is the responsibility of countries to provide effective and quality immunization for all. Sabin provides support to decision makers and strengthens national capacity to make evidenced-based decisions in the context of immunization legislation and new vaccine introduction.

During the workshop, participants will hear from international experts in immunization legislation, including representatives from the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Discussions will include international progress toward country ownership, obstacles to sustainable immunization programs, country-specific case studies from across Europe, and lessons learned in developing and implementing immunization legislation. Attendees will use these discussions to lay out a country vision, outline key provisions of their immunization legislation, and develop action plans to strengthen legislative protections for immunization.

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About the Sabin Vaccine Institute

The Sabin Vaccine Institute is a leading advocate for expanding vaccine access and uptake globally, advancing vaccine research and development, and amplifying vaccine knowledge and innovation. Sabin has built a robust ecosystem of funders, innovators, implementers, practitioners, policy makers and public stakeholders to advance its vision of a future free from preventable diseases. As a non-profit organization with more than two decades of experience, Sabin is committed to delivering evidence-based solutions that extend the benefits of immunization to all people. Sabin believes changing lives through the promise of vaccines changes the world. For more information visit us at www.sabin.org and follow us on Twitter, @SabinVaccine.

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