r of developing countries have begun routinely vaccinating children against Hib disease. Yet despite the overwhelming evidence and support in favour of these vaccines, less than 40% of African countries have adopted the Hib vaccine. One major obstacle has been the lack of available data on Hib disease burden and vaccine effectiveness.
“It is vital to support public health interventions such as the introduction of Hib vaccine with hard evidence,” said Dr. Sharif, Deputy Director of Medical Services within the Ministry of Health, Kenya. “The strength of our surveillance systems will also assist us with the evaluation of new vaccines to prevent other leading child killers such as pneumococcus and rotavirus,” he added.
Worldwide, Hib disease is estimated to cause 3 million episodes of serious disease among children each year, leading to 400,000 deaths. The greatest burden of disease and death occurs in Africa. If countries, donors and industry can be mobilized to introduce Hib vaccine into the countries that need it the most, the parents, children and healthcare providers in Africa could see the same virtual elimination of this devastating disease as seen in industrialized countries.
Surveillance to monitor the impact of health and vaccination programs is essential. “Building the evidence base for the introduction of new and underused life-saving vaccines is a critical step in understanding what interventions countries need to save more lives faster,” said Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary, GAVI Alliance. “If you can measure the impact a disease is having on your country, it is easier to build the case for preventing it.” he added.
The GAVI Alliance, together with partners and stakeholders in Kenya and other developing countries, is working collaboratively to provide funding for vaccine programs and to implement programs to improve health systems and strengthen surveillance networks.
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