Girl Effect’s CEO, Jessica Posner Odede, joined an important convening of global leaders at The Global Vaccine Impact Conference in Madrid this month, where attendees renewed their commitment to work together and harness innovation to unleash the power of vaccination.
Hosted by the Spanish Government, the Conference brought together 250 participants including more than 20 heads of state and ministers as well as private sector innovators, civil society and the pharmaceutical industry. The event evaluated the progress and challenges of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which has vaccinated 1 billion children since its founding in 2000.
Against an increasingly complex operating environment for global vaccination, Gavi published its new Mid-Term Review report, Raising Generation ImmUnity, which looked at data from the first two years of the Alliance’s 2021-2025 strategic period. After a drop in routine immunization during the pandemic there has been a recovery of vaccination in Gavi-supported countries in 2022, though more must be done to reach children who missed out during the pandemic.
Health Ministers from Africa, Asia and Latin America spoke about their successes in working across the Vaccine Alliance to grow vaccination over the past two decades, but also challenges posed by the pandemic, by instability and by climate change. Along with private sector partners and civil society, attendees came together to stress the power of innovation and community engagement in reaching more children with life-saving vaccinations.
“As we emerge from the public health emergency, we see cause for both optimism and concern: routine immunization is showing signs of recovery and Gavi is on track to meet most of its goals for the 2021-2025 period, but too many children still miss out on life-saving vaccinations,” said Dr Seth Berkley, Gavi CEO. “We thank the Spanish Government for bringing people together to re-commit to immunization in the years to come. We’ve spent the past 23 years raising Generation ImmUnity – as another generation comes of age, we aim to protect even more children against even more diseases.”
The Gavi 5.0 strategy and the Immunization Agenda 2030 (IA2030) focus on reaching zero-dose children that have missed doses of the most widely available immunizations. Partnering with Gavi, Girl Effect is implementing a four-year program in Ethiopia and Tanzania to reach missed communities and build demand for routine childhood immunizations and the cervical cancer (HPV) vaccine.
Joining a panel discussion focusing on how to reach Gavi’s target of 86 million girls with the HPV vaccine by 2025, Girl Effect’s CEO Jessica Posner Odede shared the need to put women and girls at the center with holistic programming:
“Immunization doesn’t exist in a silo, so our programmes holistically address vaccination alongside key issues like sexual and reproductive health, nutrition, mental health, education and economic empowerment. As we work with girls from 14- 29 years old, we go with them on a life journey – initially talking with them about issues such as puberty, missing school because of menstruation, friendships, mental health – through to adulthood, with some of them becoming young parents themselves. For example, during the past year with Gavi we have worked with young parents looking at routine immunization and HPV, but also sexual health, mental health, nutrition. We’ve even added Early Child Development and Nurturing Care Packages to our programming in Tanzania.”
Other speakers at the ‘Committed to All: Focus on Gender and HPV’ panel event, included: Dr Sabin Nsanzinama, Minister of Health, Rwanda; Violaine Mitchell, Director of Immunization at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Joshua Tabah, Director-General at Global Affairs Canada and Esther Nasikye, PATH and representative of Civil Society Organisations.
Gavi and Girl Effect have been working together since 2016 to reach girls at scale and drive demand for the HPV vaccine in Africa. To further the aims of Alliance partners, Girl Effect has widely shared research/insights about gender barriers to vaccination and lessons from our evidence-based model to build demand for the HPV vaccine – including a digital toolkit for the HPV community to launch girl-centered campaigns.
Read more about our 2016-2020 partnership here and how our current partnership in Ethiopia and Tanzania Is coming to life here.