African immunization conference issues recommendations for public health

The fourth Annual Regional Conference on Immunization in Africa recently issued recommendations on strengthening Africa's immunization structure, curbing the increase in the number of wild polio virus cases in Nigeria and closing the funding gap for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The conference, which was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, also issued recommendations aimed at lowering the cost of delivery of certain vaccines and strengthening the overall human resource capacity on the continent.

The conference delegates agreed to recommend that all countries should make strengthening their immunization programs an integral part of broader efforts aimed at strengthening their health systems.

They also called on the government of Nigeria to maintain their commitment and leadership of a polio program in light of accelerating efforts to stop the virus from circulating in the country. The World Health Organization and all partners in the GPEI were asked to lend their continued support to Nigerian efforts.

The conference also asked the WHO and its partners to initiate surveillance for viral hepatitis on the continent and to conduct research into the epidemiology of rubella.

WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Luis Sambo spoke at the closing ceremony of the conference, saying that immunization was one of the most cost-effective and powerful public health tools available and urging all nations to make an attempt to increase overall vaccine uptake.