AFRICA—Leading children’s charity, Save the Children International (SCI) has teamed up with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to kick-start a US$1 million initiative aimed at empowering local organizations in Nigeria and Ethiopia.

This collaborative effort seeks to expedite the deployment of cutting-edge solutions to overcome barriers hindering children from receiving vaccinations, particularly ahead of World Immunization Week.

The initiative comes at a time when one-third of the 8.7 million children globally have never received vaccination, residing in Nigeria and Ethiopia.

 The impacts of the pandemic, poverty, climate change, instability, and conflict continue to disrupt vaccination campaigns in these regions.

In a statement issued by SCI’s Acting Media Communications Manager, Mrs. Rhoda Ndahi, it was highlighted that SCI and GSK have renewed their decade-long partnership for an additional five years, with GSK investing £15 million( US$18.82 million) to facilitate two new vaccination programs in Ethiopia and Nigeria.

These programs will focus on reducing the number of children who have never received any vaccinations.

Ndahi further mentioned that SCI and GSK’s Immunization Accelerator will now be accepting applications from community-based organizations, NGOs, local research teams, social enterprises, and tech companies.

This is the most promising approach that will receive financial and technical support to pilot their innovations in real-world settings.

In addition to financial support, grants of up to US$100,000 per project, with the accelerator program offering wrap-around services ranging from technical guidance to legal advice and branding assistance, tailored to the diverse needs of companies and startups of varying sizes.

In his remarks, Duncan Harvey, Country Director for Save the Children International Nigeria, emphasized the organization’s plans to implement immunization-related projects and interventions across Nigeria to address the high rate of zero-dose and unimmunized children in the country.

He underscored the urgent need for locally-led innovation to achieve a world where no child suffers from vaccine-preventable diseases.

For his part, GSK’s Chief Global Health Officer, Dr. Thomas Breuer, expressed enthusiasm about the launch of the Immunization Accelerator and emphasized the importance of partnering with local communities, experts, and stakeholders in Ethiopia and Nigeria.

He also expressed his eagerness to see the fresh ideas the accelerator will bring and GSK’s commitment to supporting these innovations to improve vaccination rates among children in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and beyond.

He finished by saying that projects seeking consideration must be in the testing stage of the innovation cycle and demonstrate evidence of addressing priority immunization barriers whereby each project will be reviewed against robust selection criteria and consistently evaluated throughout its implementation.

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