Unvaccinated Kenyan children to benefit from Sh60 billion fund - Beaking Kenya News

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Sunday, 27 December 2020

Unvaccinated Kenyan children to benefit from Sh60 billion fund


The 600,000 Kenyan children who have missed immunisations over the years could be reached through a new Sh60 billion fund.

The fund, announced by Gavi, which funds immunisation in developing countries including Kenya, will be spread out over five years. 

About 600,000 Kenyan children have never received full immunisation, according to government estimates. 

Full immunisation refers to children below one year who have received one dose of BCG, measles and three doses each of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) and pentavalent, pneumococcal vaccines.

Gavi said in total, 10.6 million children in Gavi-supported countries still miss out on even a single dose of basic, routine vaccinations every year – a figure which is at risk of increasing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Half of all deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases in Gavi-supported countries occur among these ‘zero-dose’ children, although they account for only 13 per cent of children.

In Kenya, the national immunisation coverage recovered last year to 84 per cent after dipping a 15-year low of 63 per cent in 2018 due to a five-month nurses’ strike.

Gavi said it will increase its support for health systems in lower-income countries by US$ 500 million in the 2021-25 period to a total of US$ 1.7 billion.

In addition, it will increase its support to improve the capacity of key Alliance partners, such as WHO and Unicef, by US$ 128 million.

“As we rightly focus on the fight against Covid-19, we cannot afford to take our eyes off the ball when it comes to other deadly, preventable diseases,” said Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, chair of the Gavi Board.

“We have made incredible progress in the past two decades boosting access to lifesaving vaccines in the world’s poorest countries, yet too many children are still missing out. The cost to reach each of these ‘zero-dose’ children can be three to four times higher than those who are already being immunised, which is why this new funding will be so vital.”

In addition to the increase in funding, Gavi said it will accelerate the drive to reach unvaccinated communities throughout its programmes.

This will include working with new partners to reach the hardest to reach. For example, more than half of all zero-dose children live in countries classed as fragile, such a Somalia.

For this, Gavi recently signed an MoU with the International Federation of the Red Cross, the International Rescue Committee, and the International Organisation for Migration - all organisations that know how to reach communities in need in these difficult contexts.

“2021 will not only see the Covax Facility delivering safe, effective Covid-19 vaccines to countries across the world, it will also see the beginning of a new focus on reaching the unvaccinated," said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi.

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