Immunization Agenda 2030: Leveraging the global response to COVID-19 to strengthen health systems and build back better

On September 23, the World Health Organization, along with partners including UNICEF, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the United Nations Foundation, and the Government of Norway, hosted an official side event as part of the 76th United Nations General Assembly happening this week. The discussion among world health leaders examined the profound harm to children caused by disruptions in routine immunization due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reasserted the importance of the Immunization Agenda 2030 in strengthening primary health services across the globe, and emphasized that:

  • COVID-19 has severely disrupted routine immunization of children, particularly in fragile environments, leading to measles outbreaks in several countries;
  • Integrated campaigns with equity centered approaches, supported by targeted interventions and investments, will be critical in reaching children in remote, rural, and conflict areas;
  • Political prioritization of essential health services has been able to prevent massive backsliding despite current losses. However, investment in ALL health services will be foundational to achieving the IA2030 goals and Universal Health Coverage.

“We must get back on track and we must do better than before,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in recorded remarks.

Government, civil society, and non-governmental organizational leaders are committed to the Immunization Agenda 2030, intended to avert over 50 million deaths, 75% of them in low- and middle-income countries.

  • The World Bank has dedicated a total of $20 billion, with $4.56 billion to 55 countries spent and an additional 14 countries in the pipeline, to procure and deploy vaccines. This is in addition to a regular $24 billion investment in 206 health systems strengthening projects.
  • Gavi launched a new $500 million Equity Accelerator Fund to reach children who have not received a single vaccine dose. It has also previously made available $800 million to countries for vaccine deployment, called COVID vaccine delivery support.

Key participants in the event included:

  • Dr. Rana Hajjeh, Director of Programme Management, WHO
  • Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO
  • Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF
  • Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO Gavi
  • Dag Inge Ulstein, Minister of International Development, Norway
  • HE Dr Fawziya Abikar NUR, Minister of Health, Somalia
  • Dr. Ephrem Lemango, UNICEF representative
  • Dr. Ndadilnasiya Endie Waziri, National Stop Transmission of Polio Program (NSTOP)
  • Dr. Mansukh L. Mandaviya, Minister of Health from India
  • Dr Feng Zhao, World Bank
  • Xavier Castellanos Mosquera, Under Secretary General, IFRC
  • Dr. Kate O’Brien, Director IVB, WHO
  • Ms. Oral Ataniyazova, Senator, Uzbekistan; Member of the IPU Advisory Group on Health
  • Ms. Charlotte Mbuh, The Geneva Learning Centre
  • Ms. Zsuzsanna Jakab, Deputy Director General, WHO

About 300 participants from around the world joined online, with many asking questions and sharing their own experiences with community vaccination campaigns. The M&RP partners were encouraged by the substantial commitments made during today’s discussion, as well as the announcement of the new IA2030 Partnership Council, which will convene a group of immunization leaders to drive political progress on vaccines for everyone, everywhere. IA2030 is a chance to deliver global action, demonstrate solidarity, prevent the spread of COVID-19, and build back better.

A recording of the event can be found below.

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