African countries pledge 700 million USD for health program   2014-05-09 10:00:25            

ABUJA, May 8 (Xinhua) -- It is estimated that the amount spent by African countries on immunization will increase to about 700 million U.S dollars from 2016 to 2020, compared with the 254 million dollars which were committed to the initiative from 2011 to 2015.

The initiative is part of the pledge by African leaders to patronize sustainable immunization programs as part of their investments in the healthy futures of children and families in their countries.

This was disclosed at the launch of the "Immunize Africa 2020" declaration in Abuja here on Thursday as part of activities at the ongoing World Economic Forum on Africa.

The pledge is the expression of the seriousness African leaders attach to the health of children, said Jakaya Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

"Immunization represents one of the surest investments that can be made into the health of children. It is doable, it has been done before and shall be done again to secure the future of our countries," he stressed.

The program is a collaboration between African countries and GAVI Alliance and its partners which has been providing critical vaccines to African countries in order to eradicate especially childhood killer diseases.

Ghana, Tanzania, and Senegal were represented at government levels at the launch to declare their commitment to the fight to eradicate the causes of under-five mortality and other illnesses among their children.

President Macky Sall of the Republic of Senegal lauded the efforts by Gavi Alliance in his country for helping them achieve a high level of immunization among children.

He said Senegal would this year introduce a number of new vaccines including the one against cervical cancer among young girls.

Ghana is committed to ensuring that vaccine programs in the country will be sustained so that children are fully protected from potentially fatal disease, Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama was quoted in a press release issued at the launch.

Mahama who is also the Chairman of Sub-Regional body, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) further underscored the importance of immunization in sustaining the lives of Africa's children, endorsing the new initiative by Gavi Alliance.

The pledge by African leaders comes less than two weeks ahead of a major meeting in Brussels where Gavi Alliance will present to its partners the funding requirements for the five-year period from the beginning of 2016.

President of Africa Development Bank Donald Kaberuka said while Africa's rise was only being measured in economic terms, with a growing middle class, the most important story about the continent over the last decade had been the decline in the death of "our children."

"Illnesses cost governments a lot of money in treatment," he observed, lauding the pledge by the leaders to commit resources to the initiative.

Kaberuka also urged development partners and donors to support the cause of Gavi Alliance in order to bring good health care to African children.

Editor: Xiang Bo
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