14 Million Children Are Still Missing Out on Basic Vaccines Yearly, Gavi CEO, Seth Berkley Says

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CEO of Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), Dr Seth Berkley, says 14 million children every year are still missing out on basic vaccines “despite enormous progress over the past two decades ensuring children everywhere have access to lifesaving vaccines.”

Continuing, the Gavi big boss said, “we know a disproportionate amount of these unprotected children come from migrant, refugee and displaced populations, who are too often overlooked when it comes to basic health care.

‘’This obviously becomes all the more important as we plan to rollout COVID-19 vaccines worldwide; we cannot allow these populations to miss out on what could be one of our best routes out of this pandemic. That’s why we’re delighted to partner with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), to help provide a healthier future to some of the most vulnerable people on earth.”

To this end, Gavi and the UN migration agency have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen their collaboration on vaccination efforts and related health services for migrants and forcibly displaced persons across the world, both regarding routine immunisations as well as in response to outbreaks.

This milestone will be particularly critical in ensuring that migrants and other people on the move are considered and included, as the world continues its efforts to find a safe COVID-19 vaccine and is developing mechanisms, such as the COVAX Facility, to ensure a fair distribution so that as many lives as possible can be saved.

 IOM Director General, António Vitorino, is stressing “vaccines are one of the most powerful tools we have to keep people on the move, the communities they leave behind and the communities they join as safe and healthy as possible.

“This reinforced partnership will be critical in helping IOM achieve just that and contribute tangibly to the realisation of true universal health coverage.”

The agreement signed by the two organisations focuses on reaching missed communities in humanitarian and emergency settings with vaccination and support routine immunization through engagement in primary health care systems.

The partnership also aims to boost advocacy for the prioritisation of vulnerable populations, support operational and policy assistance and facilitate technical collaboration.

Specifically, the memorandum of understanding seeks to facilitate collaboration on ensuring the inclusion of migrants, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in governments’ COVID-19 responses, in particular vaccination efforts.

Gavi is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases.

Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 822 million children – and prevented more than 14 million deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 developing countries.

Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines. It has already been working with IOM in South Sudan since 2019 to ensure vaccinations reached hard-to-reach populations throughout the country.

For decades, hand in hand with its partners, IOM has been a key player in global efforts to ensure that migrants and other people on the move have proper access to vaccines across 80 countries.

In 2019, more than 380,000 children under the age of five were vaccinated against polio and/or measles in emergency settings and, as part of IOM’s pre-migration health services, over 445,800 vaccination doses were administered to close to 181,350 migrants and refugees in the process of migration.

In all of its migration health assessment centres, the Organisation manages a robust vaccine distribution and storage system, with staff continuously trained and up-to-date with international standards.

“For the distribution of any potential COVID-19 vaccine to be as fair and equitable as possible, IOM will be contributing its health expertise, data and other technical capacities based on its vast experience working with migrants and forcibly displaced persons”, said Vitorino. “It is critical for everyone’s well-being not to leave the most at-risk behind.”

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