National, News

Routine vaccine gaps triple in conflict zones-report

By Kidega Livingstone

 

The number of children who have never received routine vaccinations, known as “zero-dose”, is three times higher in conflict zones compared to rest of the world.

A new report from Save the Children has revealed that the percentage of zero-dose children in conflict zones stands at 22.7%, to just 7.1% in non-conflict areas.

In African countries, including South Sudan, the figure is more alarming, with 18.7% missing vaccinations, compared to 6.9% globally, the agency said

Save the Children International’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Inger Ashing said every child has the right to survive, yet a shocking number are dying from preventable diseases due to lack of access to immunizations.

She noted that children in conflict zones have often already endured unbearable experiences of conflict and displacement, making access to essential health services even more critical.

The report also highlighted the impact of climate change, with nearly half the countries eligible for funding from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, classified as fragile and conflict-affected states, where the risk of climate change is most acute.

“Not only is it possible to make sure that no child is left behind, it is critical,” Ashing said. “We need to see governments, the private sector, and partners prioritize the lives and wellbeing of children and fully fund and support Gavi.”

The launch of the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (AVMA) was welcomed by Ashing, as it will boost the capacity and autonomy of African countries to produce their own vaccines, opening the doors for more children across the continent to be protected against preventable diseases.

Save the Children called for an ambitious increase in funding for Gavi, which would enable the organization to invest in strengthening health systems and delivering more vaccines to children, particularly those who are zero-dose or under-immunized, as well as those living in conflict zones or other high-risk areas.

“Every child has the right to vaccines as part of their right to health,” the organization said.

“Children living in conflict zones are already at a huge health disadvantage, with displacement disrupting their access to services and contributing to the spread of disease.”

The analysis from Save the Children comes ahead of a major global conference in Paris this week, where donors will be asked to commit to ambitious funding for immunizations and the launch of a new initiative to boost vaccine manufacturing and production across Africa.

 

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