Opening Remarks of Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, at the 22nd Meeting of the Technical Adivisory Group (TAG) on Immunization and Vaccine Preventable Diseases in the Western Pacific Region

Manila, Philippines
25 June 2013

DISTINGUISHED PARTICIPANTS AND COLLEAGUES, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

Welcome to the 22nd meeting of the Technical Advisory Group — or TAG — on Immunization and Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the Western Pacific Region.

Since the previous TAG meeting in August, there has been much progress to report.

I would like to commend Member States for their hard work towards achieving targets and strengthening their immunization systems.

Let's look at some specific accomplishments:

• The Region retained its polio-free status when the Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication in the Western Pacific in November 2012 concluded that China adequately responded to the 2011 outbreak.

• By the end of 2012, 34 countries and areas may have interrupted endemic measles virus transmission. Rubella control has also been accelerated by synergizing measles and rubella immunization and surveillance activities.

• In December 2012, WHO and UNICEF validated China's elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus.

• Australia, China, Mongolia and New Zealand were officially verified to have achieved the regional goal of reducing hepatitis B infection rates in children to less than 1%. By 2012, the Region as a whole and at least 30 countries and areas individually achieved the less than 2% seroprevalence in five-year old children.

• WHO-accredited laboratory networks for vaccine-preventable diseases have been established with tremendous new capacities.

• The regional alliance of national regulatory authorities was established to help Member States promote the use of safe vaccines of assured quality.

• Five countries in the Region have added seven vaccines to their national schedules to reduce mortality in women and children.

These are truly impressive milestones. But still, great challenges lay ahead.

Now your expertise and wisdom are required to guide the Region on two items recently endorsed by the World Health Assembly.

First: how we should move forward so that Western Pacific countries implement the polio endgame plan by 2018.

As you know, the plan outlines activities to prevent the emergence and circulation of vaccine-derived polioviruses. Your input will be critical for successful implementation.

The second issue for the TAG is to review the proposed framework for implementation of the Global Vaccine Action Plan in the Western Pacific Region.

This global vaccine plan was endorsed by the WHA in May 2012.

Since then, the Expanded Programme on Immunization at the Regional Office has been working with Member States to identify best approaches and drafted a plan for implementing the Global Vaccine Action Plan 2011-2020.

The plan is made to order for the Region's needs with four major emphases:

1. reaching our disease reduction targets

2. increasing equity and access to vaccination;

3. promoting evidence-based introduction of new vaccines; and

4. increasing high-level financial commitment of governments, partners and donors to ensure sustainability of immunization programmes.

Your input will be invaluable as we move forward to reach the new regional immunization goals and objectives, as well as the goals set in the Decade of Vaccines.

Let me close by thanking all of you for making the Expanded Programme on Immunization a vibrant and innovative force in the Western Pacific Region.

Your guidance matters greatly to make sure all of our efforts are as effective as possible — from those of governments and development agencies to those of donors and other partners.

I look forward to hearing your recommendations and wish you all a pleasant stay in Manila.

Thank you.

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