Delegates have begun arriving in Cape Town for the launch on Thursday evening of the first International African Vaccinology Conference to be held in Africa.
While existing vaccines prevent 2.5 to 3 million deaths a year worldwide, 1.5 million children located mainly in Africa die because they have no access to these life saving vaccines.
Africa is lagging behind in meeting the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal 4 which specifically seeks to reduce deaths by two thirds in children under five years of age by 2015 compared to 1990. Immunisation is an essential part of reducing these deaths.
At least 500 delegates from Africa and overseas are gathering this week to identify the challenges that have so far prevented efforts to attain these goals.
The conference which is jointly organized by the Vaccines for Africa Initiative (VACFA) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) opens today in the evening. It will, among other issues, promote vaccine advocacy in Africa and other developing countries.