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 people 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 to prevent millions of deaths by 2020 during 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.

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 2016, but only one of these was on track as of the 2017 assessment report – the introduction of new and under-utilized vaccines. One hundred eight countries have introduced new vaccines such as pneumococcal, rotavirus and human papillomavirus since 2010, exceeding the target of at least 90 low- or middle-income countries.

The other five targets are not on track to be achieved by 2020. Approximately 19.5 million children still remain under- or unvaccinated for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis – a single vaccine commonly used as an indicator for broader vaccine coverage. Measles has been eliminated in only one WHO region. In 2016, there were 37 cases of polio in three countries – another disappointing failure to meet the GVAP target of no new cases after 2015.

In its 2017 report, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) warned of complacency and inadequate political commitment to immunization. The global health community must effectively communicate the broad benefits of immunization. The report emphasized the need to promote immunization and its alignment with other health and development agendas.

Unless countries substantially improve and expand immunization in the final three years of this Decade of Vaccines, the goals of the GVAP will not be met and children around the world will continue to suffer for lack of inexpensive, life-saving vaccines that parents in other parts of the world take for granted.

How Sabin Supports GVAP

The Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Access and Uptake programs support GVAP at the country level through several pathways:

Sabin’s Sustainable Immunization Financing 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. Sabin documents and disseminates data on countries’ progress in prioritizing immunization and establishing predictable funding for their programs. Sabin also organizes high-level GVAP briefings in partner countries and encourages immunization managers to integrate GVAP objectives into annual program work plans.

The International Association of Immunization Managers (IAIM) Network, founded in 2013, provides a forum for immunization managers to connect, share knowledge and strengthen skills required to effectively implement immunization programs.

Sabin’s meningococcalrotaviruspneumococcal, and measles and rubella advocacy activities have encouraged 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. Sabin is also working to assess and strengthen the laboratory capacity for diagnosis of pertussis.

Sabin is working to prevent typhoid and other invasive salmonelloses through research, education and advocacy. Sabin is leading a large, landmark surveillance study to establish the burden of typhoid and paratyphoid in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Data from the project will inform implementation of the new typhoid conjugate vaccine, as well as policy recommendations for typhoid and paratyphoid prevention and control. In 2017, Sabin’s Coalition against Typhoid joined forces with the Typhoid Vaccine Acceleration Consortium (TyVAC) to focus attention on integrated solutions, including typhoid conjugate vaccines and water, sanitation, and hygiene improvements, to reduce the burden and impact of typhoid. Sabin is also addressing global policy by providing evidence for the use of licensed typhoid conjugate vaccines, which have been recommended for use by SAGE.

Sabin supports SAGE’s recommendation of promoting immunization beyond childhood. Sabin organizes Adolescent Health Workshops, convening public health leaders to share experiences and strategies in strengthening adolescent health and immunization. Sabin will publish lessons learned from the discussions at these workshops so that those who cannot participate can have the opportunity to implement proposed action items.