WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 25, 2014 – Twenty years ago, the immunization landscape was starkly different from what it is now. More than 100,000 cases of poliomyelitis and 1.2 million cases of measles occurred each year, and few low-income countries outside of the Americas had immunization plans. Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which have existed since biblical times, wreaked havoc without recognition due to an absence of coordinated advocacy and government funding.

Sabin Vaccine Institute Image/ Sabin Vaccine Institute Facebook page
Sabin Vaccine Institute
Image/ Sabin Vaccine Institute Facebook page

Significant challenges persist, but the global health landscape has witnessed considerable positive change since 1993 ­– resulting in millions of lives saved and tremendous economic growth – thanks to the leadership and increased collaboration among NGO, government and private sector partners.

To celebrate wide-ranging global immunization and vaccine development achievements over the past twenty years since its founding, the Sabin Vaccine Institute will today convene a Scientific Symposium of some of the world’s leading health experts at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to examine the innovations needed to overcome remaining obstacles to universal access to immunizations.

“Vaccines are one of the most powerful, cost-effective interventions that save lives and catalyze economic growth,” said Dr. Ciro de Quadros, executive vice president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “Partner coordination, advocacy, and country ownership has led to the eradication and elimination of diseases such as smallpox, and polio is on the verge of being eradicated. The introduction of life-saving vaccines for rotavirus and pneumococcal, among other diseases, has occurred in many areas around the world. But we must continue to fulfill a shared responsibility to ensure that all individuals in every country have access to vaccines, a fundamental human right to health.”

Extending the full benefits of immunization to every man, woman, and child by 2020 requires a comprehensive approach. The Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), a roadmap to achieving universal access to vaccines and averting 2.5 million deaths per year from vaccine-preventable diseases, was endorsed in 2012 by the World Health Assembly. But implementation of the plan at the regional and national levels has been slow. Strengthening advocacy, enhancing coordination, creating sustainable national financing mechanisms and developing new tools are just some of the key strategies that will accelerate progress.

At the Sabin Scientific Symposium, leaders from multilateral organizations, government, non-governmental organizations, academia and the pharmaceutical industry, will share insights on how these issues are being addressed.

Speakers will include:

  • Dr. Margaret Chan, World Health Organization
  • Dr. Seth Berkley, GAVI Alliance
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease
  • Dr. Carissa Etienne, Pan American Health Organization
  • Dr. Julie Gerberding, Merck Vaccines, on behalf of International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association
  • Dr. Julio Frenk, Harvard University
  • Dr. Jon Andrus, Pan American Health Organization
  • Dr. Lance Gordon, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Dr. Mickey Chopra, UNICEF
  • Dr. Mahendra Suhardono, Biofarma, on behalf of Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network
  • Dr. Ciro de Quadros, Sabin Vaccine Institute
  • Dr. Peter Hotez, Sabin Vaccine Institute
  • Mr. Morton Hyman, Sabin Vaccine Institute

“We are honored that the world’s leading experts can join the Sabin Vaccine Institute in acknowledging historic advancements in vaccines and offering forward-looking strategies to meet global targets for immunization coverage,” says Michael W. Marine, CEO of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “The Sabin Vaccine Institute remains a committed partner in delivering health solutions to reduce unnecessary suffering among the most vulnerable people worldwide from vaccine-preventable and neglected tropical diseases.”