December 04, 2012

DRC 2008 © Anna Surinyach

An MSF staff member vaccinates a child for measles.

Three new issue briefs outlining Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s main concerns regarding the need for adapted vaccines, the need to bring vaccine prices down, and the need to address vaccine supply problems can be accessed at: msfaccess.org/briefings.

“There’s no reason children should still be dying of vaccine-preventable diseases. The global vaccines community could be doing a lot better to make sure all babies in developing countries are fully vaccinated against killer diseases. We need vaccines that are easier to use in hard-to-reach places.”

—Dr. Manica Balasegaram, Executive Director, MSF Access Campaign

MSF is deeply concerned that the current global vaccination strategy is not paying enough attention to reaching the one in five babies born each year that continue to go without the very basic vaccination package. MSF sees the direct effect of the failures in basic vaccination when massive outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases emerge in places where we work. In 2010 in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone, MSF vaccinated more than four million people for measles in response to outbreaks that would not be happening if routine immunization were working well. The global number of babies not fully vaccinated rose from 19 million in 2010 to 22.4 million in 2012—there’s an urgent need to address this situation.

The approach being taken in the vaccines blueprint being launched for the next ten years—the "Global Vaccine Action Plan" and "Decade of Vaccines"—does not adequately emphasize the need to strengthen basic immunization. Developing vaccines that are better adapted to reach children in remote or unstable locations—vaccines that do not require refrigeration, do not require needles, and that can be given in fewer doses—is not being prioritized enough. Better products are needed to alleviate the growing number of un-immunized children. GAVI should play a role in the development of adapted products, but to date, it has not done so.

Additionally, GAVI is not paying enough attention to getting vaccine prices down in its effort to introduce new vaccines, such as for pneumococcal disease and rotavirus. This could have a devastating impact on countries’ immunization programs once donor support through GAVI tapers off. Honduras, for example, will face a nearly 1,000 percent price increase to vaccinate a child with these two new vaccines when the country loses donor funding in 2015. The vaccines blueprint is not making a serious effort to address the issue of high prices.

Read the issue briefs at msfaccess.org/briefings

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