Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne has called on African leaders to demonstrate increased commitment to expanding access to vaccines for Africa’s children.

African leaders need to do more to save the lives of their future generations, Hailemariam said when opening the first Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa (MCIA) here Wednesday.

“Now it is time for African governments’ inclusive collaboration with civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders to redouble our efforts and commitment to build strong, sustainable and inclusive immunization systems,” he stated.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says one in five children in Africa does not receive basic life-saving vaccines. Vaccination is the major reason infant mortality in Africa decreased by 55 per cent from 1990 to 2012, declared WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan.

However, only nine countries in Africa reported immunization coverage greater than 80 per cent in all districts in 2014, according to Dr Chan.

Hailemariam cited successes Ethiopia had achieved in the expansion of life-saving vaccines for the country achieving 77 per cent immunization coverage by 2014.

The first Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa (MCIA) is aimed at advancing the dialogue on ways of best achieving universal access to immunization.

It was indicated that a lack of political commitment and other reasons such as shortage of budget and misperceptions towards vaccination are challenges limiting access to vaccines for African children.

The MCIA is to serve as a powerful platform for African governments to demonstrate their commitment in expanding access to immunization in the continent.

Source: ENA