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Immunization: SCI, GSK launch $1m project to tackle barriers in Nigeria, Ethiopia.

In preparation of the global Immunization week, Save the Children International (SCI) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have launched a new $1 million initiative to empower local organisations in Nigeria and Ethiopia and fast-track cutting-edge solutions to tackle long-standing barriers that prevent children from receiving vaccinations.

Nigeria Acting Media and Communications Manager for the SCI, Rhoda Ndahi in a statement on Tuesday lamented that Africa has the highest number of ‘zero dose’ children (children who have never received a routine vaccination in the world).

To her, 8.7 million children; more than a third of these children live in Nigeria and Ethiopia, where the combined impacts of the pandemic, poverty, climate change, instability and conflict are disrupting vaccination campaigns.

She added that in 2023, her organisation and GSK renewed their decade-long partnership for a further five years, with an investment of £15 million from GSK enabling two new vaccination programmes in Ethiopia and Nigeria focused on reducing the number of zero-dose children.

Building on this work, she said innovators applying to the accelerator could address any type of barrier to the access and utilisation of vaccines on both the supply and demand side, such as improving community engagement, streamlining logistics to increase the availability and accessibility of vaccines and strengthening data management to track vaccine coverage rates.

“Grants on offer are up to the value of $100,000 per project, alongside wrap-around support services from technical guidance to legal advice and branding assistance, tailored to address the diverse needs of varying size companies and startups”, she narrated.

She further quoted the Country Director of SCI Nigeria, Duncan Harvey saying: “SCI has been deeply committed to implementing immunisation-related projects and interventions across Nigeria in response to the high rate of zero-dose and unimmunised children in the country.

“The Save the Children and GSK Immunisation Accelerator was born out of an understanding of the urgent necessity for locally-led innovation to achieve our shared vision of a world where no child suffers from a vaccine-preventable disease.

“This collaboration opens new opportunities and efforts in tackling the barriers and defiance to immunisation, especially in our communities. As locally led innovators, the uniqueness and relatability of the innovations will address widely the issues of zero-dose immunised children and provide more sustainable solutions that translate to a higher number of children being immunized.”

She also quoted Chief Global Health Officer, GSK, Dr Thomas Breuer, saying “We are excited to see applications open for the Immunisation Accelerator. Our partnership with Save the Children is guided by local communities, experts, and stakeholders, so seeking out the local knowledge and capabilities in Ethiopia and Nigeria is fundamental in finding unique innovations that could help address the critical need for improvements to vaccination rates amongst children.

“We eagerly anticipate the fresh ideas that the Accelerator will bring, and we’re ready at GSK to support these innovations come to fruition, to help change the trajectory for children in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and beyond,” it read.

The statement however said the initiative is open for applications from community-based organisations, national NGOs, local research teams, social enterprises, and tech companies.

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