Low political commitment bane of yellow fever immunisation in Africa- Experts

Patients waiting to see doctor used to illustrate the story
Patients waiting to see doctor used to illustrate the story

The World Health Organisation has urged African political leaders to increase their commitment towards the elimination of Yellow Fever on the continent by year 2026.

The DG, WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus at the formal launch of the Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) in Africa strategy programme in Abuja on Tuesday said the organisation will be partnering with 27 countries in Africa on yellow fever vaccinations with the aim of eliminating the disease from the continent.

Mr Ghebreyesus said yellow fever is a vaccine-preventable disease and as such would have been expected not to be a problem, ”however such is not the case”.

He lamented that reasons why the disease still prevails inspite of an obvious solution (vaccine) is the low political commitment of many leaders.

The DG said addressing the low routine immunisation rate across Africa will help in curtailing many vaccines preventable diseases and not just Yellow Fever.

“The world is facing an increased risk of Yellow Fever outbreaks and Africa is particularly vulnerable. With one injection, we can protect a person for life against this dangerous pathogen.”

Mr Ghebreyesus said the agency is targeting nearly one billion people to be vaccinated against the disease in 27 high risk African countries by 2026 with support from WHO, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and ”more than 50 health partners”.

He said the unprecedented commitment by countries will ensure that by 2026 Africa is free of the epidemic.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti said Africa as a continent is prioritising Yellow Fever because of it is a vaccine-preventable disease which unfortunately has had a large fatality rate.

Ms Moeti said though there are other high burden diseases in Africa, yellow fever vaccination would help reduce the spread of the disease across borders.

She said the disease has the tendency to spread from one region to another especially in places where there are mosquitoes.

“We are investing in vaccination to reduce the financial burden which would be incurred for curative measures. It will also help reduce the high morality rates which has been associated with the disease outbreak,” she added.

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