14 June 2011

Senegal: Health Minister Outlines Vaccination Programme

London — The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), at a conference in London on 13 June to receive firm pledges of funding for the next five years, raised US$4.3 billion from governments and private donors - more than the $3.7 billion it had asked for.

GAVI is billed as a partnership between donors, vaccine manufacturers and recipient countries. One of those attending was Senegal's minister of health, Modou Diagne Fada, and at the end of the meeting IRIN asked him about his own country's vaccination programme:

Where has Senegal got to now with its vaccination programme? How many of your children are vaccinated?

We have currently reached 86 percent coverage. The level was 60 percent in 2002 and had risen to 86 percent by 2009.

And what role has GAVI played in this?

Basically GAVI has been at the root of this growth, but it has also allowed us to make vaccination much safer. They have enabled us to introduce auto-disable syringes [designed so they cannot be re-used] and they have supplied incinerators to all our health districts so they can be disposed of safely. And of course they have supported us in introducing new vaccines - in particular, Hepatitis B.

What about Rotavirus [which causes severe diarrhoea in children]?

We are going to ask GAVI to help us introduce vaccination against Rotavirus as part of our programme between now and 2015 - also the vaccines against pneumonia, and meningitis A.

Which diseases cause the greatest health problems in Senegal?

Well, nowadays malaria is no longer the leading cause of death. Today the leading causes of death are chronic diseases, and non-transmissible diseases, especially cancer. Among these cancers there is one which is very deadly, cervical cancer, and I think the introduction of the vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus would help us reduce the number of our women who die from this disease.

Have you already started with that?

No - that's all part of our programme for the next five years. I think the pledges which GAVI has received today will mean that it will be in a good position to help us introduce the Rotavirus, Pneumococcus, and Meningococcus vaccines, and the vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus as well.

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