Improvement of the health of future generations by strengthening infant immunisation programmes in South AfricaOngoing
The Ministers of Finance, Ministers of Health or their representatives form 35 countries met in Cape Town, South Africa, from 10-12 April 2002, and agreed this call for accelerated action for the vaccination of children against major communicable diseases. Over 3 million people will die prematurely due to vaccine-preventable diseases on an annual basis. These vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type b infections, pose also a serious threat to the health of all South African children. South African provinces have a far-going autonomy in domains such as public health, and dispose of their own Departments of Health. The provinces selected for collaboration in the project are Gauteng, the North West Province, and Limpopo. Gauteng contains major cities such as Pretoria and Johannesburg, and is home to MEDUNSA. This institution has been founded under the previous regime as a medical university for black students only, with limited resources. In the new era it has obtained the status of historically disadvantaged university and is currently performing an overtaking manoeuvre, still needing considerable assistance in terms of education, science, management, personnel, and international collaboration. The North West Province and Limpopo (formerly known as the Northern Province) were chosen because of a variety of reasons, including: (1) Their educational and historical ties with Gauteng; (2) Their geographical proximity to MEDUNSA; (3) Their pronounced need for help and support (Limpopo, e.g., is the poorest and least developed of all South African provinces). The immunisation programme in the region still faces major challenges: lack of staff at the MOH, lack of appropriate infrastructure, role of private sector not well established, notification system not working properly, little information on attitude of parents towards immunisation available, epidemiology data scattered and not readily available, the MOH unable to properly train its staff, and finally, anti-vaccine lobbies getting more powerful. The project is meant to contribute: (1) To improve the health of all present and future generations in South Africa; (2) To strengthen the immunisation programmes for all vaccine-preventable childhood diseases.
01/04/2003 - 31/03/2008