The GAVI Alliance in Geneva, Switzerland, has approved a $21 million grant to help improve vaccine supply chains in Nigeria.
Awarded to the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, the grant, which supports the Nigerian government's efforts to expand primary health care and significantly reduce mortality in the country by 2015, will be used to purchase refrigeration equipment for storing vaccines and to improve data collection. As part of the initiative, the Nigerian government has upped its target for routine immunization coverage to 87 percent, potentially providing more than six million children with protection against a range of deadly and debilitating vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, meningitis, pneumonia, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, hepatitis, yellow fever, and tuberculosis.
Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is a priority for GAVI, which has committed more than $670 million for vaccine support in the country since 2000. According to GAVI, the new grant will play an important role in providing vaccines against yellow fever, meningitis A, measles, and the recently introduced five-in-one pentavalent vaccines, which combine diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccines with hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccines.
"Improving cold chain equipment will help bridge vital gaps that currently exist in Nigeria's supply chains," said GAVI Alliance chief executive Seth Berkley. "This will not only help Nigeria reach its Saving One Million Lives targets by improving routine immunization, but it will also play a crucial role in Nigeria's polio eradication efforts and set the stage for forthcoming new vaccine introductions."