The Women Advocates for Vaccines Access (WAVA) coalition were attendees at the maiden edition of the Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa (MCIA16) held at Sheraton Hotels, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 24th to 25th February, 2016. The conference welcomed African Ministers for Health, Ministers for Finance, civil society organizations (CSOs), and other stakeholders working on immunization in Africa, which culminated in the signing of the Addis Declaration on Immunization (ADI) to demonstrate commitment to expanding access to vaccines across the continent.
Prior to the start of MCIA16, a CSO side event took place on February 23, 2016 with the theme: Civil Society: Promoting equity and holding governments accountable. The meeting provided an opportunity for African CSOs to discuss their role in holding governments accountable in improving vaccine access and coverage in Africa, in line with the Global Vaccine Action Plan. Participants reviewed current global best practices in community-level immunization advocacy, outreach work and identified ways CSOs can best work together post conference. The side event was capped with a declaration, endorsed by the CSOs, to call on African Health Ministers to ensure equitable access to immunization. This declaration was presented during the main conference.
Finishing from the CSO side event, the Nigerian contingent at the conference–the WAVA coalition, members of the National Immunization Financing Task Team (NIFT) and other CSOs–held a breakfast meeting with the Hon. Minister for Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole. WAVA convener, Dr. Chizoba Wonodi, read the CSOs common position to MCIA16. She recounted the gains and challenges of immunization in Nigeria and called on the Minister to make a strong representation at MCIA16, and ensure increase in funding for immunization as well as equitable vaccine access for all children. She reiterated the CSOs commitment to support the government while still holding them accountable for delivering immunization services to all communities, especially the poorest and most marginalized members of society.
During the main conference, WAVA members were also invited to a press briefing organized by WHO for the Nigeria Health Minister to speak on Nigeria’s gains in immunization, especially on the earlier interruption of wild polio virus.
In summary, MCIA16 produced two outcomes: the Addis Declaration on Immunization (ADI) and the CSOs Declaration that will significantly influence the future of immunization in Africa. WAVA members were represented by Dr. Chizoba Wonodi (WAVA Convener), Dr. Obinna Ebirim (WAVA Technical Consultant), Mrs Chika Offor (Founder, Vaccine Network for Disease Control) and Mrs Omowole (President, National Association of Women Journalist).