As someone who has dedicated his life to public health, I am thrilled to see Africa’s leaders making a bold commitment in support of immunization. The African Union endorsement of the Addis Declaration on Immunization (ADI) demonstrates that vaccines, and the proper health systems to deliver them, play a significant role in the future of our continent.
Measles and many other diseases preventable by vaccination have a devastating potential. Even a few years ago, rural communities had a saying: to know how many children you have in your household, wait for the measles. Measles epidemics have decimated children in times past. This was the case of the Mankanza territory in the province of Equateur, located 220km from the provincial capital, Mbandaka, and accessible only by water. Many, many children were buried because the measles vaccine had not yet come to their communities until 1996. The few survivors can still recall the impact of these measles epidemics. Even with sub-optimal immunization coverage, once the vaccine came, no epidemics occurred.Read full story