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Healthcare experts discuss efforts to secure affordable vaccinations

By Dana Al Emam - May 03,2016 - Last updated at May 03,2016

AMMAN — Immunisation experts convened on Tuesday to discuss means of securing more affordable life-saving vaccinations, seeing it as an international issue affecting the region and the Kingdom.

Carried out by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the two-day workshop highlights Jordan’s participation in the organisation’s “A Fair Shot” international campaign, which seeks to spread awareness on the high price of life-saving vaccines, said MSF Head of Mission in Jordan Marc Schakal.

The event brings together around 40 field experts to examine challenges facing access to new vaccines, and seeks to identify short-term actions to reach affordable new vaccines, with a primary focus on pneumonia.

Schakal said that last May, all 193 member states of the World Health Organisation (WHO), including Jordan, passed a resolution on their concerns of the rising cost of vaccination, adding that the workshop is an opportunity to build on the momentum of that resolution.

In an interview with The Jordan Times, the MSF official said pharmaceutical firms producing vaccines have already made $30 billion turnover sales in 2015 from pneumonia vaccines only.

“The price is set up differently among countries, with obscure pricing criteria that is not linked to the wealth or the population of the countries,” he added, noting that the WHO resolution seeks to push towards lowering the prices of vaccines.

Schakal said some countries pay between $70 and $90 per dose, with three doses needed per child.

He commended Jordan’s leadership in the region concerning the issue as a country with advanced medical capability and expertise.

Health Minister Ali Hiasat highlighted vaccination as a burden that the health sector bears in light of the increase in the targeted population due to the influx of Syrian refugees, adding that the ministry follows the best practices to sustain “excellent” health indicators and to prevent outbreaks of communicable diseases.

He said the ministry provides all Expanded Programme on Immunisation vaccines free of charge to all children living in Jordan regardless of their nationality, yet Jordan’s classification as a high middle income country makes it ineligible for the membership of the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI).

Nathalie Ernoult, the head of advocacy at the MSF Access Campaign, noted that each year around 1 million children die of pneumonia worldwide.

 

She said Jordan is working with MSF to enhance access to lower price vaccines. “Countries in the region have the same concern and could work together to access more affordable vaccines, under Jordan’s leadership.”

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