SENEGAL – President of the Republic of Senegal, His Excellency President Macky Sall has invited fellow African Heads of State, international agency representatives, public health leaders and civil society to join him in Senegal for the Forum on Immunization and Polio Eradication in Africa.

President Macky, also the current Chair of the African Union, called on the continent’s Heads of State to reaffirm their support for the commitments made in the Addis Declaration on Immunization and Immunization Agenda 2030 and make immunization and the fight against outbreaks a priority.

“It must be said loud and clear that immunization is a safe intervention. From their conception to the first injection, vaccines follow a rigorous and standardized scientific protocol and help soon for chance,” President Macky said.

“Immunization saves lives, especially those of women and children, who are in many ways vulnerable groups in society. Immunization is effective. It prevents human suffering and disabilities, and it helps to build strong immune systems in children.

“This is why, in 1974, we launched the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) in Senegal. Today it comprises 14 antigens. At the continental level, the 2017 Addis Declaration on Immunization calls for African Union member states to mobilize to ensure access to vaccines for all. This is all the more necessary as health threats, old and new, continue to be rampant, with increasing risks for large-scale contaminations.”

Adopted in 2017, the Addis Declaration on Immunization is a historic pledge by African Heads of State to ensure that everyone in Africa – regardless of who they are or where they live – receives the full benefits of immunization.

Immunization Agenda 2030, unanimously adopted by all member states at the World Health Assembly in 2020, provides a strategic framework for addressing key immunization issues in the context of primary health care and universal health coverage during 2021-2030.

Despite significant progress made by African countries in recent decades to ensure that children get a better start in life through immunization, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an alarming decline in the number of children receiving life-saving vaccines.

Every country in the world experienced disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a total of 25 million children globally missing out on vaccination in 2021.

Two years after the WHO African Region was declared free of wild polio, polio outbreaks continue to spread in under-immunized communities.

The four-month suspension of polio vaccination campaigns in at least 16 African countries in 2020 due to COVID-19 led to tens of millions of children missing polio vaccines and contributed to the spread of variant poliovirus outbreaks across many African countries.

Organizations across the continent have announced their support for remobilizing around the Addis Declaration, including the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD).

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