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MSF Report Criticizes Global Vaccine Action Plan

In a report (.pdf) released on Tuesday, the non-governmental organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, said a new $10 billion global vaccination plan “fails to address the 20 percent of babies — some 19 million infants — who never receive basic, life-saving shots,” and that, “[r]ather than pushing for novel vaccines, the plan should focus more concretely on strategies to get existing vaccines to children,” Nature’s “News Blog” reports (Maxmen, 5/15). The “‘Global Vaccine Action Plan’ has been designed to implement the ‘Decade of Vaccines’ project and will be considered by health ministers gathering next week in Geneva for the 65th World Health Assembly,” according to an MSF press release, which adds, “MSF welcomed the increased emphasis on vaccines stimulated by the ‘Decade of Vaccines’ but expressed concern that some key challenges are being glossed over” (5/15).

“Misleading statistics, in part, account for why vaccine coverage has fallen to the wayside in the current plan, says Daniel Berman, deputy director of the MSF Access Campaign,” Nature writes. “Secondly, gaps in vaccination fade into the background when global health organizations only emphasize gains made over the past decade, says Berman,” according to the magazine, which adds that MSF “is hoping to draw attention to this issue in advance of … the 2012 World Health Assembly.” The report makes several recommendations about how to improve GVAP, including reformulating vaccines so they can be delivered through nasal sprays or orally, the blog notes (5/15). “By issuing this report, [Berman] said, MSF hopes to challenge … global health leadership to take a much harder look at what’s really working — and what’s not working — in the effort to prevent child deaths in the developing world,” KPLU 88.5’s “Humanosphere” blog writes (Paulson, 5/15).

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