Vaccination programmes a moral obligation

28 September 2009

"Vaccinating our children is a moral obligation," said the Department of Health's Dr Ntombenhle Ngcobo at the opening session of the 5th annual Vaccinology Course in Cape Town this month.

Ngcobo was one of two keynote speakers.

The course is a partnership between UCT's Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine's (IIDMM) Vaccines for Africa (VACFA), GlaxoSmithKline, NESI, Troped, and Sanofi-Pasteur. It develops an understanding of the necessity of vaccines in saving lives, and the need for their uptake in Africa.

Citing the successful measles immunisation drive, the World Health Organisation's Dr Wandile Chauke (the other keynote speaker)said vaccinating remained one of the most cost-effective interventions in preventing infectious disease.

Both opening speakers said that although vaccines had been around for decades, 27 million children are still not being reached in developing regions of the world. Chauke called for greater financial commitment to immunisation programmes in Africa.

Co-ordinated by Dr Charles Wiysonge, vaccinology programme manager at the IIDMM, the course brought together 60 participants from 14 African countries.

The course has been presented in five African countries so far. As IIDMM director Professor Gregory Hussey said, "If there is one idea we'd like you take back home with you, it's that you need to become advocates for vaccines in Africa."

Hussey illustrated this using the home page of the new Vaccines for Africa (VACFA) website. The website is a key advocacy tool for promoting the uptake of vaccines in Africa.

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