Tag Archives: UNICEF

UNICEF, WHO, IFRC and MSF announce the establishment of a global Ebola vaccine stockpile

The four leading international health and humanitarian organizations announced today the establishment of a global Ebola vaccine stockpile to ensure outbreak response.

The effort to establish the stockpile was led by the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision, which includes the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), with financial support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The stockpile will allow countries, with the support of humanitarian organizations, to contain future Ebola epidemics by ensuring timely access to vaccines for populations at risk during outbreaks.

The injectable single-dose Ebola vaccine (rVSV∆G-ZEBOV-GP, live) is manufactured by Merck, Sharp & Dohme (MSD) Corp. and developed with financial support from the US government. The European Medicines Agency licensed the Ebola vaccine in November 2019, and the vaccine is now prequalified by WHO, and licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration as well as in eight African countries.
Before achieving licensure, the vaccine was administered to more than 350,000 people in Guinea and in the 2018-2020 Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under a protocol for “compassionate use”.

The vaccine, which is recommended by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization for use in Ebola outbreaks as part of a broader set of Ebola outbreak response tools, protects against the Zaire ebolavirus species which is most commonly known to cause outbreaks.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is reminding us of the incredible power of vaccines to save lives from deadly viruses,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Ebola vaccines have made one of the most feared diseases on earth preventable. This new stockpile is an excellent example of solidarity, science and cooperation between international organizations and the private sector to save lives.”

UNICEF manages the stockpile on behalf of the ICG which, as with stockpiles of cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines, will be the decision-making body for its allocation and release.
The stockpile is stored in Switzerland and ready to be shipped to countries for emergency response. The decision to allocate the vaccine will be made within 48 hours of receiving a request from a country; vaccines will be made available together with ultra-cold chain packaging by the manufacturer for shipment to countries within 48 hours of the decision. The targeted overall delivery time from the stockpile to countries is seven days.

“We are proud to be part of this unprecedented effort to help bring potential Ebola outbreaks quickly under control,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “We know that when it comes to disease outbreaks, preparedness is key. This Ebola vaccine stockpile is a remarkable achievement – one that will allow us to deliver vaccines to those who need them the most as quickly as possible.”

As Ebola outbreaks are relatively rare and unpredictable, there is no natural market for the vaccine. Vaccines are only secured through the establishment of the stockpile and are available in limited quantities. The Ebola vaccine is reserved for outbreak response to protect people at the highest risk of contracting Ebola – including healthcare and frontline workers.

“This is an important milestone. Over the past decade alone we have seen Ebola devastate communities in West and Central Africa, always hitting the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest,” said IFRC Secretary General, Jagan Chapagain. “Through each outbreak, our volunteers have risked their lives to save lives. With this stockpile, it is my hope that the impact of this terrible disease will be dramatically reduced.”

“The creation of an Ebola vaccine stockpile under the ICG is a positive step”, said Dr Natalie Roberts, Programme Manager, MSF Foundation. “Vaccination is one of the most effective measures to respond to outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases, and Ebola is no exception. An Ebola vaccine stockpile can increase transparency in the management of existing global stocks and the timely deployment of the vaccine where it’s most needed, something MSF has called for during recent outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

An initial 6,890 doses are now available for outbreak response with further quantities to be delivered into the stockpile this month and throughout 2021 and beyond. Depending on the rate of vaccine deployment, it could take 2 to 3 years to reach the SAGE-recommended level of 500,000 doses for the emergency stockpile of Ebola vaccines. WHO, UNICEF, Gavi and vaccine manufacturers are continuously assessing options to increase vaccine supply should global demand increase.

Estimated 250,000 Malnourished Children In Northeast Risk Death In 2020- UNICEF

By Juliet Oyoyo

UNICEF has warned that if care is not taken, Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) leading to deaths and irreparable damage in the Northeast is imminent in 2020.

This was revealed in a nutrition survey which estimates that about 258,950 under-five years of age children in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states are at risk of death from SAM in 2020.

Already, an estimated 371,000 children of the age bracket from these three states are suffering from SAM, with UNICEF-DFID, treating about 165,000 of these cases this year, using the Ready To Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).

“If not timely identified and treated, malnutrition has serious and permanent consequences in the growth and development of children.

One out of two child deaths under the age of five is attributed to malnutrition. Children suffering from SAM are four to 11 times more likely to die compared to their healthy counterparts,” UNICEF Nutrition Manager Maiduguri Field Manager, Sanjay Das, said during a media dialogue by UNICEF and the Child Rights Bureau Department, Federal Ministry of Information.

According to Das, “Children suffering from SAM are immune-compromised, and this increases their likelihood of suffering from a range of infections and disease complications.

It causes irreversible brain damage and compromised intellectual capacity in adulthood leading to reduced productivity and an estimated 16 per cent loss in growth domestic product.”

In order to prevent the 258,950 children from SAM damage and death, UNICEF Nutrition Field Officer, Borno, Aminu Usman said N5b is needed to procure 258,950 cartons of RUTF.

At the moment, he said UNICEF is the sole pipeline agency for RUTF for the collective response.

“So far, UNICEF has procured fund for 29,314 cartons of RUTF, leaving a funding gap of N4.4b for the procurement of 229,636 cartons of RUTF,” he said, emphasising the need for government at all levels and private sectors to assist with intervention funds.

“To support and curb malnutrition in all its form, UNICEF with funding from DFID is implementing two multi sectorial projects to promote positive nutrition outcomes in Northeast; the Flexible Integrated and Timely (FIT) project in Borno and working to improve Nutrition in Northern Nigeria (WINN) project in Yobe State.

The FIT project, which started in April 2019, will run till March 2020, with a budget of five million bounds.

Both projects entail provision of a basic package of nutrition services.”

The Nutition Specialist UNICEF Maiduguri field office, Abigael Nyukuri said, Through the FIT and WINNN project, UNICEF has been able to treat 165,000 children suffering from SAM using RUTF, provide micro-nutrient supplementation to 135,000 children aged six to 23 months and 550,000 pregnant and lactating women were given skilled Infant and Young Child Feeding during emergency counseling, to support maternal nutrition and optimum feeding practice for children aged below two years.