Vietnam gets ready to self-finance vaccine program

By VnExpress   December 29, 2016 | 12:59 am PT
Vietnam gets ready to self-finance vaccine program
An infant, infected with measles, and his mother at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by the Vietnam News Agency
Financial support from international partners will be cut back now that the country has achieved the middle-income status.

Vietnam has started phasing out from receiving international support for its immunization program.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), which includes WHO and UNICEF, has provided Vietnam with $14.9 million for vaccines, $3.2 million for injection safety, and $1.9 million for immunization services since 2000.

GAVI has also offered $86.69 billion to introduce the 5-in-1 vaccine against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b.

Vietnam has drastically reduced the number of child deaths. Statistics provided by UNICEF showed that over the last two decades, the number of deaths of Vietnamese children under five years old dropped from 56 per 1,000 in 1990 to 22 per 1,000 in 2015.

Duong Thi Hong, deputy head of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, told the Vietnam News Agency that the immunization coverage rates are high, for instance 94.9 percent for measles and rubella.

But Hong said there will be challenges next year as GAVI is set to cut back on its support.

Vietnam is now in the transition phase and will no longer be eligible for funding from the alliance as the average income level has increased, hitting around $2,200.

“There is a steady downward trend in foreign aid since Vietnam has been listed among middle-income countries,” said Hong.

The government needs to be proactive to be able to self-finance its immunization program, she said.

Vietnam is pushing for mass production of vaccines. According to the Ministry of Health, the country is among a few in Southeast Asia capable of producing most of the important vaccines needed.

However, the country has not been able to combine several vaccines in one shot, for instance, 5-in-1 or 6-in-1 vaccines, said the health ministry.

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