Expert: Basic programs unequipped to handle immunization in certain countries

Kate Elder, the vaccines policy advisor for Médecins Sans Frontières’ Access Campaign, recently said that current immunization programs are not well-suited to handle some developing countries.

Elder said that the programs do not work well in places where most children that miss immunization. Approximately 70 percent of the more than 22 million children missed by basic vaccination programs annually reside in just 10 countries, News-Medical.net reports.

“It is interesting because this list of 10 countries really hasn’t changed that much over the past couple of years,” Elder said, according to News-Medical.net. “This is evidence to the fact that we know where a lot of these un-immunized children are and we know the conditions in which they are living. Many of the places in which they are living are also where MSF is operating. The conditions in these places are quite difficult. For example, transportation is very difficult; consistent electricity is very difficult; reaching people that live in remote areas is logistically challenging.”

Elder said that many vaccines require the maintenance of a cold chain and multiple doses for maximum effectiveness. The cold chain and the requirement of multiple doses were designed for developed countries where the logistical challenges can be overcome easily. Countries like South Sudan, a country Elder visited personally in April, are not as adaptable.

Elder said that vaccines with fewer logistical problems that enable MSF to do outreach would be the most effective in developing countries.

“(We need) vaccines that can facilitate us doing outreach and that don’t require such heavy logistical capacity – that don’t require the cold chain; that we can give in one dose; an easier to use administration technology so that a lay community health worker could administer the vaccine,” Elder said, according to News-Medical.net.

MSF’s Access Campaign pushes for access to, and development of life-prolonging and life-saving vaccines, diagnostics and medicines in MSF programs and beyond, News-Medical.net reports.

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