Before reaching her second birthday, an American child will be vaccinated against 14 diseases. A child in sub-Saharan Africa? About 6. Yet the African child will be especially vulnerable to disease due to high rates of malnutrition, co-morbidities, and weak health systems.
Whatâ€™s more, the American child will have access to new vaccines as they become available. After a 15 to 20 year lag, those same vaccines will finally reach sub-Saharan Africa, perhaps in time for the next generation.
The International Vaccine Access Center, which launches on December 7, seeks to change this scenario by accelerating global access to life-saving vaccines. Vaccine uptake is delayed by a combination of incomplete epidemiological information, outdated policies, and market barriers. For instance, without information on country-specific disease burdens, policymakers are left weighing the upfront costs of revising their immunization program against uncertain future benefits.
As national policies remain unchanged, the potential market looks smaller and smaller to manufacturers. Without confirmed orders, manufactures cannot offer the reduced pricing that makes these products affordable to developing countries.
In the meantime, years pass and kids succumb to diseases that could have been prevented. The 2009 State of the Worldâ€™s Vaccines and Immunizations Report estimates that existing vaccines could avert the deaths of up to 2 million children if given access to these vaccines.
IVAC sees an opportunity to save lives by shortening the lead-time between vaccine development and vaccine introduction in the developing world. Building on lessons learned from the successful Hib Initiative and Pneumococcal Vaccine Accelerated Development and Introduction Plan (PneumoADIP), IVAC will generate the epidemiological information policymakers need to make informed decisions. â€œFor too long, access to life-saving vaccines has been delayed by the lack of evidence-based policies to support their use and delivery.
The cost of these delays is measureable in lives lost, and IVAC will aim to turn that situation around by using evidence to assure equitable vaccine access globally,â€ said Orin Levine, Executive Director of the new center.
Based at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, IVAC will strive to maximize the impact of immunizations, one of the most powerful and cost-effective tools we have for improving child health. Hopefully, success will build upon success, demonstrating to manufacturers the viability of new products in developing markets and generating new investments in child health. While IVAC does not have an official malaria project as of yet, the center is exploring opportunities to accelerate the introduction of a future vaccine.
To learn more about IVAC and childhood vaccination, visit Dr. Levineâ€™s blog at the Huffington Post.
Thanks to Jenna Rose for providing the above information.