Pan African Parliament to establish African Parliamentarian Caucus on Immunization - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Pan African Parliament to establish African Parliamentarian Caucus on Immunization

As African Parliamentarians commit to urgent action to increase immunization rates and advance universal health coverage

H. E. Hon. Roger Nkodo Dang, PAP President

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP)  has adopted a resolution on the establishment of an African Parliamentarian Caucus on Immunization, to drive forward the body’s commitment to ensuring that all children across the continent have access to the vaccines they need.

This followed the presentation of report of the PAP/WHO Dialogue On the Implementation of the African Union (AU) Declaration on Universal access to Immunization by the Chairperson of the Permanent Committee on Health, Labour and Social Affairs, Hon. Aurelien Simplice Zingas Kongbelet, the Programme Coordinator, Immunization And Vaccines Programme, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa, Dr. Richard Mihigo and the Director, Health Systems And Services Cluster at the WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, .

“Expanding access to immunization will help lay the foundation for universal health coverage across Africa, a cause which the Pan-African Parliament strongly supports,” said Hon. Roger Nkodo Dang, President of the Pan-African Parliament. Universal health coverage (UHC) has gained significant political momentum across Africa in recent years, with many countries committing to provide access to quality, affordable health care for all by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).   

Political commitment for investing in immunization is at an all-time high. In 2017, Heads of State from across Africa endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunization (ADI) at the African Union Summit – a historic pledge that envisions an Africa where every child, no matter their economic circumstances, has access to life-saving vaccines.

Vaccines are one of the most effective and cost-effective public health interventions available. Yet, one in five children in Africa still does not have access to all the necessary and basic vaccines a child should receive. Every year, more than 30 million children younger than 5 years in Africa fall sick due to vaccine-preventable diseases. Of them, more than half a million die – representing 56% of the global deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases.

“The World Health Organization welcomes the Pan-African Parliament’s resolution to establish a caucus dedicated to strengthening immunization across Africa. The high cost of disease outbreaks we have witnessed across the continent – in human suffering and economic damage – points to the urgent need for political leadership and collective action to ensure that everyone across Africa has access to basic health services,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa.   

The Second Ordinary Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Pan-African Parliament, which took place in Midrand, South Africa from 6th to 17th May, was also an opportunity for parliamentarians to express their commitment to achieving UHC by 2030 and contribute their perspectives on each country’s unique pathway to attaining health for all. Hon. Prof. Ogenga-Latigo Morris Wodamida (Uganda) in his contribution to the debate, posited that one of the primary function of government is the protection of its citizens and therefore urged African leaders to take the issue of immunization seriously. He condemned the cultural barriers that had impeded the immunization of children and then urged governments to avoid a repeat of the past.

In his contribution, Hon. Salek Abderrahman Musa (Sahrawi Republic) stressed the need for government to pay attention to prevention which is better than cure and also stressed the importance of clean environment which can be achieved through public education with minimal resources

Hon. Segepoh Solomon Thomas (Sierra Leone) believed that Africa is not bereft of good laws but our problem have always been their implementation. He condemned the lack of interest in dealing with criminal misconduct by law enforcement agents and cited a case in Malawi where a number of suspects died in police custody, noting that the officials involved are yet to be investigated of prosecuted. ”We must ensure that parliaments challenge their respective country’s criminal justice system” he concluded.   
In September 2019, the UN General Assembly will hold the first-ever UN High-Level Meeting on UHC and vote on a historic political declaration in support of health for all. Subsequently, in October 2019, the Inter-Parliamentary Union is expected to adopt a global parliamentary resolution on achieving UHC by 2030 and the role of parliaments in ensuring the right to health.

Sustained political will and domestic financing for immunization will be key to drive progress and advance UHC across the African Region, in order to achieve the ADI commitments and SDG targets.

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