Four out of five children are currently reached with immunisation. This is a great achievement; but not good enough.
Despite global progress, one in five children are still being denied their right to this and other essential health services.
In 2011, 22 million children did not receive even the most basic vaccines. These are children from the poorest families, from remote areas and from other disadvantaged groups.
We must do more to ensure universal access to the full benefits of immunisation so that no child dies from preventable or treatable causes.
Equity takes centre stage at GAVI Partners’ Forum
Governments, civil society, technical experts and the private sector came together last week at the GAVI Partners’ Forum in Tanzania to share experiences, celebrate successes, identify challenges and strengthen partnerships to accelerate progress on immunisation.
It was great to see that equity was prominent on the agenda.
It was a key theme of the Partners’ Forum and resonated throughout the various sessions, with panelists and participants continuing to emphasise the need to address inequalities and reach the fifth child.
Who is the fifth child?
During Thursday morning’s opening plenary session, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director and Vice Chair of GAVI Board, Geeta Rao Gupta, talked of the story of the fifth child being the story of equity.
The fifth child lives beyond the reach of health services due to barriers of poverty, geography, caste and gender – a situation that is unjust and inexcusable.
GAVI CEO, Seth Berkley, talked of the importance of closing the equity gap both between and within countries, emphasising the role of health workers and a strong health system in doing so.
Friday morning’s session, Bridging communities and health systems to reach the unreached, showcased successful experiences of engaging communities to ensure that all children are reached.
Later in the day, the session Reaching the unreached: putting equity at the heart of immunisation brought together representatives from governments, multilateral agencies, civil society, and the private sector to look at how to address inequalities in immunisation and health.
Immunisation for All
We launched our new report Immunisation for All: No child left behind during a press conference at the Partners’ Forum.
It looks at strategies to end the injustice that sees a fifth of children still denied their right to immunisation, calling for equitable progress towards universal access to the full benefits of immunisation, integrated with other essential health services.
“We’re committed to keep working hard with our partners to ensure that a child’s chance to lead a healthy, productive life is not determined by factors such as wealth, gender, or geography,” stated Helen Evans, Deputy CEO of the GAVI Alliance.
Professor A. F. M. Ruhal Haque, Minister of Health and Family Welfare for Bangladesh, said: “It is a matter of joy that we have reached four-fifths of the world’s children with routine immunisation. What is now most important is to finish the rest of the job to achieve 100% coverage. This report will be an important tool and source of inspiration toward achieving this goal.”
We are calling for greater action to stop the hardest-to-reach children from being denied their right to life-saving vaccinations.
As stated by Yvonne Chaka Chaka during the CSO Forum, “We need to start walking the talk.”