Decade of Vaccines Collaboration consultation event in the Americas
By Laura Moya Alonso, Delivery and R&D Working Group Coordinator
On February 27-28 the Decade of Vaccines (DoV) Collaboration Americas consultation was held in Mexico City. The event was co-hosted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the Ministry of Health of Mexico.
The aims of this consultation were: to provide an overview of the DoV Collaboration effort to the different stakeholders and provide an opportunity for them to contribute into the draft GVAP and to share information on achievements, challenges and lessons learnt from immunization in the region. One unique aspect at this event was the opportunity to discuss in greater detail the potential roles and responsibilities of the different actors for the implementation of the GVAP in the Americas.
More than 60 participants from 14 different countries participated in this event, including Ministry of Health representatives (30% of the total), private sector (20%), academia (13.3%), and civil society (8.3%).
The opening session was led by Dr. Jon Andrus, Deputy Director of PAHO together with Dr. Okwo Bele, WHO Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, Dr. Enrique Paz, UNICEF Regional Health and Nutrition Advisor, the Americas & Caribbean Regional Office and Dr. Ciro de Quadros, co-chair DoV Collaboration.
Small group discussions provided excellent feedback during the meeting. On day one, we focused mainly on how to put the GVAP into action, while on day two we discussed the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders over the decade. A multi-stakeholder panel was organized for this purpose where different representatives from the government (Dr. Vesta Richardson, Director General, National Center for Health of Infancy and Adolescence in Mexico and Mr. Alejandro Zapata, government representative from Bolivia), the private sector (Dr. Carlos Espinal, Director Public Health Latin America at Sanofi Pasteur and Dr. Samuel Ponce de Leon, Director General, Laboratorios de Biologicos y Reactivos de Mexico), civil society (Dr. Abel Di Gilio, Director General Elea Laboratories and Mundo Sano representative) and PAHO (Dr. Gina Tambini, Area Manager Family & Community Health, PAHO) shared their opinions on what the challenges and opportunities will be in their sector for the next decade.
Important messages emerged during the consultation, both to strengthen the GVAP and to begin thinking about the implementation over the decade. Some highlights were : i) Despite the remarkable progress achieved in the region, important inequity gaps still exist with regard to coverage rates at sub-national level and across the different countries of the region; ii) The Decade of Vaccines represents an opportunity to improve production capacity and the provision of vaccines in the region though the establishment of alliances with local and regional institutions; iii) The great potential in the area of Research and Development (R&D) in the region was highlighted as well as the suggestion to develop a regional agenda for R&D; iv) The existence of immunization legislation in most countries is an essential element, beyond the standard that reflects the right to health of citizens; and v) Importance of strengthening the capacity of decision-makers.
The closing session was led by the Mexican Minister of Health, Salomon Chertorivski. During this session, Dr. Ciro de Quadros, thanked the Minister of Health for hosting the consultation event and called for the inclusion of health and development in the G20 agenda, to be held in Los Cabos, Mexico on June 18-19, 2012.
During this session, the Mexican Minister of Health highlighted the main achievements of the country in the field of immunization, including the implementation of the “Universal Immunization Programme”. He also pointed out the impact of the rotavirus vaccine since its introduction in Mexico has contributed remarkably to the decrease in the mortality of children under one year of age, while the pneumococcal vaccine has contributed to the decrease of the under five mortality rate.
This meeting represented an excellent opportunity to create new synergies and linkages between different countries and institutions within the Region. The successful experience of Latin America in the field of immunization should be an example for all us to look at and learn from.