Vaccines Save Over 50m Lives In Africa In 50 Years : WHO


About 51.2 million lives have been saved through vaccines in the African region over the past 50 years, according to a new report by the World Health Organization, WHO.


The WHO claimed that for every infant life saved over the 50 year period, close to 60 years of life are lived.


WHO says these achievements have been possible under the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), a WHO initiative launched in 1974 as a global endeavour to ensure equitable access to life-saving vaccines for every child, regardless of their geographic location or socioeconomic status.

The report, which assesses the life-saving impact of vaccines, was released on Wednesday, April 24 at the start of this year’s African Vaccination Week and World Immunization Week being marked from 24–30 April under the theme “Safeguarding Our Future: Humanly Possible”.

Most countries in Africa provide antigens for 13 vaccine-preventable diseases, up from the initial six when the EPI was introduced especially as there has been support from WHO, UNICEF and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

The report says there has been a reduction in measles deaths, with an estimated 19.5 million deaths averted over the last 22 years. Also, there has been a sharp decline in meningitis deaths by up to 39 percent in 2019 compared with 2000.


Africa was declared free of indigenous wild poliovirus in 2022 following years of relentless work against the virus.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said;

“From disease prevention to eradication the success story of vaccines is a compelling one. Millions of people are alive and healthy today thanks to the protection vaccines offer.

“We have half a century of momentum and have accomplished so much. Now we must sustain and expand vaccine equity to end the threat of vaccine-preventable diseases.”

She hinted that the rollout of new vaccines such as the first-ever malaria vaccine, and expansion of existing vaccines, such as HPV, which protects against the leading cause of cervical cancer, has also set up future generations in Africa with an opportunity to thrive.

UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Etleva Khadilli, said;

“Today we celebrate the monumental advances governments and partners have taken across Africa in the last fifty years to ensure so many more children on the continent are living past their fifth birthday thanks to vaccination.

“Leaders, partners and donors must strive to protect immunization gains in the region, especially in the face of backsliding rates in recent years.”


The UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Gilles Fagninou said;

“Children that are not, or not enough, vaccinated often come from communities missed across the spectrum of social services. We must focus our efforts on finding them and ensuring they receive the life-saving vaccines and other services they need. Together, with leaders and communities, we can make this a reality.”

Managing Director of Country Programmes Delivery at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Thabani Maphosa stated;

“The evidence is clear: vaccines are one of the most impactful and cost-effective investments in health and development in history. Over the past two decades, Gavi has worked with 40 African countries to expand immunisation coverage while delivering new innovations like the HPV and malaria vaccines and responding to deadly outbreaks – saving millions of lives and generating billions in economic benefits.

“With climate change, crises and the threat of infectious disease on the rise it is more important than ever that governments invest in immunisation to help ensure everyone, everywhere has an equal opportunity for a safe and healthy future.”

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