AFRICA – Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is collaborating with governments, communities, and partners to reach up to 100 million children with measles and rubella vaccines in 2024 through catch-up and follow-up campaigns.

This initiative encompasses 22 approved country applications aiming for campaigns in 2024.

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zambia are among the countries slated for rollout in 2024.

Timely and high-coverage campaigns targeting un- and under-immunized children are critical for addressing growing immunity gaps, especially in fragile and conflict-affected settings.

This ambitious target comes when there has been a concerning increase in cases, outbreaks, and fatalities due to declines in vaccine coverage during the pandemic.

Globally, routine immunization coverage for the first dose of Measles Containing Vaccine (MCV1) remains two percentage points below pre-pandemic levels.

Recent data from WHO-CDC shows that from December 2022 to November 2023, 51 countries experienced significant or disruptive measles outbreaks, compared to 33 countries in 2022. Of these outbreaks, 26 occurred in African countries.

Already in 2024, preventive measles and rubella campaigns have been launched in countries such as Eritrea, Nepal, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and Mali, with Sudan rolling out an MR introduction campaign amid ongoing conflict.

During the current strategic period (2021-2025), Gavi Alliance has allocated US$753 million to measles and rubella initiatives.

These funds support countries in routine immunization, including introducing a second dose of measles or MR and rubella-containing vaccines and implementing preventive campaigns and outbreak responses through the Measles & Rubella Partnership’s Outbreak Response Fund.

In December 2023, Gavi’s Board, recognizing the urgent need to close immunity gaps resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, approved an initial US$290 million to provide fully funded doses for a “Big catch-up” effort aimed at reaching children who missed routine vaccinations, including measles and rubella.

Additionally, Gavi has collaborated with partners to assist countries in transitioning to 5-dose vials, which can enhance coverage, reduce wastage, and alleviate healthcare worker concerns about opening vaccine vials in specific contexts.

Gavi resumes direct funding to Lesotho following financial management milestones

Gavi and the government of Lesotho have signed a Letter of Intent to resume direct funding to the government following the successful implementation of financial management requirements.

This development follows a 2022 program by Gavi to support Lesotho in strengthening its financial capabilities to address all Grant Management Requirements (GMRs).

Thabani Maphosa, Managing Director of Country Program Delivery at Gavi, stated, “We commend the Government of Lesotho for its commitment to building back better and ensuring greater financial accountability and transparency.

“Gavi is pleased to stand by Lesotho’s side as we embark on this new partnership chapter. We look forward to this continued partnership as we sustain the gains in the long term.”

As of April 2024, all mandatory GMRs have been successfully addressed, enabling Gavi to resume direct funds disbursement through the government system in the second half of 2024.

Gavi will also provide public financial management capacity-building support through the end of 2025 to ensure financial assistance is available at both national and sub-national levels for sustainability.

Selibe Mochoboroane, Lesotho’s Minister of Health, added, “This unique moment is an opportunity for the Government of Lesotho to strengthen our relationship with partners. We look forward to working together to drive and sustain positive changes in our country’s health system.”

Tlohang Sekhamane, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Lesotho, commended the Ministries of Health and Finance for establishing solid public financial management, accountability, and transparency structures, enabling the return of direct Gavi support to Lesotho.

He urged all stakeholders, including parliament, to collaborate for the prosperity of Lesotho.

Gavi and its Alliance partners commend Lesotho for its dedication to improving financial management and transparency.

This is an important step in the country’s journey towards greater self-reliance and sustainable immunization programs.

The international development community also attended the event, marking the resumption of fund disbursement, including the EU Ambassador to Lesotho, Ms. Paola Amadei, the UN Resident Coordinator in Lesotho, Ms. Amanda Mukwashi, the World Bank Country Representative, Dr. Yoichiro Ishihara, and representatives from MCC, USAID, WHO, and UNICEF.

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