Africa must take own approach to improve immunization

African countries are making major improvements to their immunization services, but must deal with specific country-by-country issues to reach globally agreed upon immunization targets, according to a recent report.

Charles Wiysonge, Gregory Hussey and Shingai Machingaidze from the University of Cape Town in South Africa recently published the article, "Strengthening the Expanded Program on Immunization in Africa: Looking beyond 2015," in PLOS Medicine. The authors found that despite vaccine progress, Africa may not meet the 2015 deadline for vaccine-related Millennium Development Goals, PLOS Medicine reports.

"This continued failure to meet agreed targets thus far suggests that general and country-specific challenges with regards to immunization programs in Africa have not been fully identified, understood, and/or addressed effectively," the authors said, according to PLOS Medicine.

The authors said that many international efforts to create immunization coverage, such as Universal Childhood Immunization, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, Millennium Development Goals and the Global Immunization Vision and Strategy fall short in Africa because each African country has individual issues that are not solved by a general set of guidelines.

"The recently introduced (Global Vaccine Action Plan) is guided by six principles: country ownership, shared responsibility and partnership, equity, integration, sustainability, and innovation," the authors said, according to PLOS Medicine. "While this provides generalized strategies for attaining outlined goals, it is absolutely necessary for complementary tailor-made African approaches accompanied by robust monitoring and accountability frameworks."

According to the authors, African leaders must be held accountable for meeting agreed upon country immunization targets and honoring international commitments, PLOS Medicine reports.