African Vaccination Week: "Vaccines Work, Do Your Part!"
Darin Seehafer
Darin Seehafer
Sr. Director, Center for Vaccines and Emerging Infectious Diseases

Vaccines prevent between two and three million deaths each year and the World Health Organization estimates an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global vaccination coverage improves. The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO) is celebrating its 8th Annual African Vaccination Week (AVW) this week, with the theme “Vaccines work, Do your part!” highlighting the importance of vaccine protection.

This year’s AVW celebrations will happen in close connection with the ongoing implementation of the roadmap of the 10 ADI commitment of the Ministers of Health contained the Addis Ababa declaration and also with the World Immunization Week’s theme of “Protected Together: #VaccinesWork”.

Investment in immunization programs in Africa have resulted in:

  • A 50% decline in child death rates, and ever-growing numbers of children attending school;
  • Widespread access to vaccines that were not available to African children and adults just a decade ago;
  • Higher vaccine coverage rates across the continent in each five-year period between 1999-2014;
  • The remarkable achievement of the Africa continent for interrupting wild poliovirus transmission for more than one year; achieving near elimination of Meningococcal meningitis A epidemics, and the significant reduction in disease burden and mortality due to measles.

WHO AFRO will use its resources to support awareness events and health promotion across various country offices through media, community outreach, and other tactics in collaboration with Member States and other partners. An Information Toolkit was developed which provides branded materials including immunization backgrounders, posters, and social media posts to amplify existing activities and facilitate communications for the week.

The WHO AFRO African Vaccination Week 2018 Toolkit explores the education and advocacy efforts that are helping to close the immunization gap.

These efforts are in line with the objectives of global and regional immunization strategic plans, and provide advocacy regarding the need and role of everyone to close the gap: individual, government, civil society, partners, etc.

Since AVW was implemented 2011, countries have conducted large scale vaccination campaigns, small scale vaccination activities and health promotion initiatives.

The results achieved in 2017 include:

  • Nearly 14 million doses of vaccines administered in 19 countries
  • About 10 million deworming tablets were distributed in Angola, CAR, Comoros, Madagascar, Rwanda
  • 3 million vitamin A tablets were distributed in Angola, CAR, Comoros, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sao Tomé, Zimbabwe
  • 7 million children screened for malnutrition in Angola, Madagascar and Rwanda
  • 3,000 LLITN distributed in Angola
  • Malaria and HIV testing activities in Angola and Madagascar, distribution of family planning devices in Rwanda.

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