Africa’s Vaccination Test

BOSTON – In February in Addis Ababa, African health ministers signed a widely celebrateddeclaration of their commitment to keeping immunization at the forefront of efforts to save the continent’s children from death and disease. Fulfilling that commitment will be no easy feat. Immunization is not just a health issue; it is also an economic challenge.

The case for vaccination is strong. Globally, an estimated 2-3 million child deaths and 600,000 adult deaths are prevented annually through immunization. Moreover, immunization is considered one of the most cost-effective public-health interventions for reducing child morbidity, mortality, and disability. A recent study estimates that every dollar spent on vaccination will save $16 in costs of illnesses averted. Accounting for the value individuals place on longer and healthier lives, net returns on investments in immunization soar to some 44 times the cost. And net returns exceed costs for all vaccines.

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