PARIS, July 31 /PRNewswire/ -- The French agency Agence de Médecine Préventive (AMP) has received a grant of 10 million dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the development of National Vaccine Advisory Committees in Africa and Asia. These Committees will help the National Health Authorities of GAVI-eligible(1) countries to implement vaccination policy and programs adapted to their needs and to introduce new vaccines. AMP will develop this project in partnership with the International Vaccine Institute (IVI, Seoul) and in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), and its regional and national offices.
Vaccine advisory committees exist predominantly in developed countries, where their role is to make recommendations to national governments on vaccine policy. In the absence of such expert committees, most poorer countries rely on advice from international agencies, and often do not establish their own national recommendations.
"National expertise is particularly needed today with the availability of new vaccines against meningitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, cervical cancer, and various forms of viral encephalitis, which could be introduced shortly." said Philippe Stoeckel, Chairman of AMP. The situation may become more complex with the development of vaccines against malaria, HIV, and other diseases, which could become available in the coming years. While they can provide protection against some of the world's leading killers, these vaccines may be expensive, may require new approaches for the organization of vaccination, and may compete for limited resources with other health-care priorities. Important efforts have been made by the GAVI Alliance and Fund (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) to strengthen immunization programs and introduce new vaccines in developing countries. For sustainable progress to be made, it is important for countries to design their own vaccination strategies according to their specific needs. For this, the expertise of National Vaccine Advisory Committees can be critical.
The seven-year grant allocated to AMP to "support the establishment of national processes to enhance evidence-based decision-making in immunization and health" will thus focus on the establishment of National Vaccine Advisory Committees.
The AMP will oversee the entire grant and have main responsibility for its implementation in Africa, while its partner, the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) in Seoul, Korea, will be responsible for the program in Asia.
Both AMP and IVI will provide technical assistance and guidance to the newly established committees; develop and refine tools to assist committees (such as standard decision-making protocols to be adapted by countries, on-site and distance training opportunities, and an interactive web site); promote sustainability; and share experience in developing and disseminating products and resources that will help other countries to develop their own national advisory committees.
Target countries will be selected among those meeting the requirements for GAVI Alliance funding. Selection criteria will include an assessment of existing capacity and strong local commitment.
About AMP - the Agence de Médecine Préventive is a not-for-profit organization, with headquarters at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, and offices in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire et Senegal. Its mission is to promote preventive medicine in the field of vaccinology and infectious disease. AMP develops expertise and applied research in vaccinology and offers training in epidemiology and in management of public health programmes. AMP also organizes scientific and technical meetings, as well as dissemination of information on health and vaccinology. For more information, please visit http://www.aamp.org
The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) is the world's only international organization devoted exclusively to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines to protect the world's poorest people, especially children in developing countries. An initiative of the United Nations Development Program and based in Seoul, IVI conducts research in Asia, Africa and Latin America on vaccines against diarrheal infections, bacterial meningitis, pneumonia, Japanese encephalitis and dengue fever. For more information, please visit http://www.ivi.int.
(1) The GAVI Alliance is a public-private partnership created in 2000 to save children's lives and protect people's health by increasing access to immunization in poor countries. It provides support to national governments through the GAVI Fund. Eligibility is determined by national income and only countries with a gross national income (GNI) per capita below US$1,000 in 2003 qualify (there are currently 72 eligible countries).