Press releases

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Moeti concludes official visit to Cote d’Ivoire

03 March 2016

Dr Moeti with H.E. Mr Daniel Kablan Duncan, the Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire

Abidjan, 3 March 2016 - The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti concluded a three day official visit to Cote d’Ivoire yesterday. The visit began on Monday 29 February and was aimed at further strengthening collaboration between WHO and the Government of Cote d’Ivoire.

On the first leg of the visit, the Regional Director and her delegation visited the refurbished Emergency Department of the Cocody University Teaching Hospital [CHU] in Abidjan. She was taken on a guided tour of the 90 bed facility which is a combined emergency and surgical department. She congratulated the Ivorian authorities on the quality of the premises, the staff and the service that she had observed.

Dr Moeti paid a courtesy call on H.E. Mr Daniel Kablan Duncan, the Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire. They discussed the health challenges facing Côte d’Ivoire including the shortage of skilled health and education personnel and the Regional Director assured the Prime Minister of WHO’s support to tackle the country’s health challenges.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the visit, Dr Moeti commended the Ivorian authorities for the country’s major health achievements, “in particular, the eradication of the Guinea worm, polio and the elimination of neonatal tetanus, which attests to a breakthrough in the improvement of the health of the Ivorian people.

She reassured journalists that WHO was working with countries to improve their preparedness in the event of a Zika virus outbreak in Africa. “We are working with Côte d’Ivoire in particular on a number of specific actions that could help the country to provide a proper response,” she added.

Referring to her priorities to improve health in the African Region and other ongoing health development efforts in the country, she said: “When I was elected, I also set a number of priorities, notably universal health coverage, which is also included in the priorities of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire. There is also preparedness and response to public health emergencies. That is also a priority for Côte d’Ivoire. In fact, the Prime Minister recently inaugurated the Emergency Operations Centre, which is a major breakthrough in this area”.

The importance of sustaining focus on the health related MDGs and SDGs was highlighted. It was also noted that the issue of noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and cancer also remain priorities for prevention.

The Ivorian Minister for Public Health and Hygiene, Dr Raymonde Goudou Coffie, hailed the excellent cooperation between Côte d’Ivoire and WHO: “We have utmost cooperation with the various levels of WHO. The priorities that the WHO Regional Director for Africa has just mentioned are in line with ours, notably preparedness and response to public health emergencies, noncommunicable diseases and human resources capacity building. We are equally reassured that we can count on the support and guidelines of WHO to improve the health condition of our people,” she stated.

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Ministers pledge to improve access to vaccines at first-ever Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa

25 February 2016

Ministers pledge to improve access to vaccines at first-ever Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa

Addis Ababa, 25 February 2016 – With one in five African children lacking access to all needed and basic life-saving vaccines, ministers of health and other line ministers countries committed themselves to keep immunization at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality, morbidity and disability.

At a landmark Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa held from 24-25 February, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia the ministers signed a declaration to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against vaccine-preventable diseases and to close the immunization gap by 2020. The conference, which was hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Offices for Africa (AFRO) and the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) in conjunction with the African Union Commission (AUC), was the first-ever ministerial-level gathering with a singular focus on ensuring that children across the continent can get access to life-saving vaccines.

“Our children are our most precious resource, yet one in five fail to receive all the immunizations they need to survive and thrive, leaving millions vulnerable to preventable disease,” H.E. Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, Minister of Health for Ethiopia. “This is not acceptable. African children’s lives matter. We must work together to ensure the commitments we make in Addis Ababa translate into results.”

A new report issued at the conference paints a mixed picture on vaccine access, delivery systems and immunization equity in Africa. Routine immunization coverage has increased considerably across Africa since 2000, measles deaths declined by 86% between 2000 and 2014, and the introduction of new vaccines has been a major success. However, one in five children still do not receive all of the most basic vaccines they need, three critical diseases—measles, rubella and neonatal tetanus—remain endemic, and many countries have fragile health systems that leave immunization programs vulnerable to shocks.

Addis Ababa Declaration on Immunization to be presented to African Heads of State

In June 2016, His Excellency Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, the host country for the conference, will present the Addis Ababa Declaration on Immunization to the African Heads of States at the 26th Summit of the African Union. Support from heads of state will further empower countries to increase efforts to mobilize resources for national immunization programs.

The declaration commits countries to increasing domestic financial investments in order to deliver routine immunizations and roll out new vaccines. The economic benefits of immunization are proven to greatly outweigh the costs, with recent research showing the benefits of preventing illness and lost productivity to be 16 times greater than the required investment in vaccines.  

“We all agree that vaccines are one of the most cost-effective solutions in global health. Investing in immunization programs will enable African countries to see an outstanding economic benefit,” said Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Gavi Board and former Finance Minister of Nigeria. “If we can ensure that all African children can access life-saving vaccines, no matter where they are born, we will have a golden opportunity to create a more prosperous future for communities across our continent.”

As Ministerial Conference closes, new momentum builds for countries to prioritize immunization

The Ministerial Conference convened hundreds of political leaders, technical experts and advocates from across Africa and globally. The conference offered African policymakers and advocates a platform to celebrate progress toward expanding immunization coverage; discuss strategies for tackling the biggest challenges facing vaccine efforts; foster country ownership for sustainable financing for immunization; and advocate for greater engagement with all stakeholders to ensure sustainable demand for immunization.

“The Ministerial Conference achieved its goal of uniting leaders from across Africa behind the single goal of reaching every child with the vaccines they need,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Now, we will carry this momentum forward from Addis Ababa, stay accountable to our commitments and close the immunization gap once and for all.”

“With the right mix of political will, financial resources and technical acumen, Africa is positioned to make an incredible leap in immunization coverage,” said Dr. Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean. “Today is a first step in a journey that will take us to the last mile to reach every child with the vaccines they need.”

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For additional information contact:

Collins Boakye-Agyemang
Regional Communications Adviser, WHO AFRO
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Rana Sidani
Senior Communication Officer, WHO EMRO
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Frédérique Tissandier
Senior Manager, Communications, Media Relations
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More information: Please visit the conference website www.immunizationinafrica2016.org. You can also follow conference developments on Twitter with @AfricaVaxConf and join the discussion using #MCIA16 and #vaccineswork.


 

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Despite gains in access, 1 in 5 African children go without lifesaving vaccines

23 February 2016

Despite gains in access, 1 in 5 African children go without lifesaving vaccines

Addis Ababa, 23 February 2016 — A new report issued today by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean Region shows that despite considerable progress in expanding access to vaccines in Africa, one in five children on the continent still do not receive life-saving immunizations. Africa’s routine immunization coverage of 80% is the lowest of any region in the world.  

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Meningitis A nearly eliminated in Africa through vaccination, reaching more than 235 million people

23 February 2016

Children standing in line to get vaccinated – Meningitis vaccine launch – Burkina Faso, 2010

ADDIS ABABA, 23 February 2016 - Global vaccine experts and officials from all 26 African “meningitis belt” countries have convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to celebrate one of Africa’s biggest public health achievements—the introduction of a vaccine, MenAfriVac®, designed, developed, and produced for use in Africa, that in five years of use has nearly eliminated serogroup A meningococcal disease from meningitis belt countries and is now being integrated into routine national immunization programs.

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Experts wrap up workshop on cancer registries

12 February 2016

Experts wrap up workshop on cancer registries

Brazzaville 12 February 2016 – Cancer control experts from nineteen French-speaking countries in Africa wrapped up a five-day workshop aimed at building their capacity to tackle the rising tide of cancer in the Region.

The workshop which began on 8 February 2016, in Brazzaville, Congo brought together over forty high-level participants from ministries of health. It was organized by the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), International Agency for Research on Cancer  (IARC), African Cancer Registries Network (AFCRN) and the Registre des cancers de Brazzaville. The objective was to enhance Member States’ capacities in establishing and operating cancer registries to support comprehensive cancer control planning in francophone African countries.