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Gambia Honoured For Excelling In Immunisation, Child Survival

Dec 4, 2009, 12:28 PM | Article By: Sainey MK Marenah

The Gambia has been awarded among 15 countries in Africa for excellence in immunisation and child survival, with best immunisation performance, at an award ceremony held at GAVI partner's forum, a press release from UNICEF The Gambia office indicated.

"Fifteen health ministers from low-income countries today received awards from the GAVI Alliance for their outstanding performance in improving child health and immunisation," the release added.

At a ceremony held at the GAVI Alliance Partners' Forum in Hanoi, GAVI Board Chair, Mary Robinson, GAVI Immunise Every Child Board member, La Infanta Cristina of Spain, and GAVI CEO Julian Lob-Levyt, presented Ministers with an engraved plaque in recognition of their success.

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Yvonne Chaka Chaka, a South-African singer, moderated the event.

GAVI's CEO Julian Lob-Levyt noted that the awards recognise the works of all those responsible for the success of the nations honoured in Hanoi, including individuals who work in national health care systems and the GAVI partners who collaborate with governments to help overcome financial and logistical barriers. 

"All have worked hard to make these achievements possible," he said at the celebration.

"With these awards we acknowledge the great work that so many of you are doing at times in extremely challenging circumstances-to provide immunisation services to mothers and children."

According to the release, Vietnam, the host country of the GAVI Partners' Forum and Nepal received awards for the highest average annual rate of reduction of child mortality among all of the 72 GAVI countries since 1990.

"We recognise that effective and sustainable programmes require careful attention to a variety of factors," Dr Lob-Levyt said.

"You have to ensure that the vaccines are available; that stocks are well managed and your staff is well trained. You also need to put in place a workable delivery system for reaching every child, and you must have adequate resources to sustain the introduction of new vaccines. This is why we gave awards in different categories," it stated.

The 2009 GAVI Partners' Forum held from 18 to 20 November is a platform for exchanging ideas about existing opportunities and about GAVI's policies and strategy for the next five years through 2015. The meeting brought together more than 400 participants, among them global health leaders and a wide range of international delegates from GAVI-eligible countries and from donor countries, representatives of civil society organisations, technical experts and private sector partners.

The aim is to learn about developing countries' experiences in fighting vaccine-preventable diseases and discuss challenges ahead.

The meeting in Hanoi took place just one month after the release of the 2009 State of the World's Vaccines and Immunisation by the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the World Bank.

The report acknowledged the need for donor nations to address a funding gap that leaves millions of children still at risk, particularly in the poorest nations and communities, where preventable diseases take their deadliest toll.