Member States unanimously adopt new plan to combat vaccine-preventable diseases

WHO/Catharina De Kat-Reynen

An ambitious roadmap to ensure equitable and optimal protection of Europe’s population from vaccine-preventable diseases was adopted today, 17 September 2014, by the 64th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe.

Following presentation of the European Vaccine Action Plan 2015–2020 (EVAP) by Dr Nedret Emiroglu, Deputy Director of WHO/Europe’s Division of Communicable Diseases, Health Security and Environment, and a plenary discussion, the Plan was unanimously adopted by the Region’s 53 Member States.

Call for stepped up action

While significant progress has been made in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases in the European Region, gaps in immunization coverage persist – creating opportunities for transmission among susceptible individuals. More must be done to reach underserved population groups, ensure sustained demand for vaccines, as well as to expand access to newly available vaccines, such as those against human papilloma virus and pneumococcal disease.

Of particular concern are reported outbreaks of measles and rubella over the past 2 years, which threaten achievement of the Region’s elimination objective. The recent increase in the international spread of poliovirus also heightens the need to strengthen disease surveillance and outbreak preparedness to prevent transmission in the event of its reintroduction into the Region.

Putting the Region back on track

Through adoption of EVAP, Member States have pledged to step up their efforts and political commitment to: 

  • sustain polio-free status;
  • eliminate measles and rubella;
  • control hepatitis B infection;
  • meet regional vaccination coverage targets at all administrative levels throughout the Region;
  • make evidence-based decisions about introduction  of new vaccines;
  • achieve financial sustainability of national immunization programmes.

EVAP outlines a path to achieve these goals in the form of defined objectives, priority action areas and a framework to evaluate and monitor progress. The Plan also proposes innovative strategies to increase the demand for and supply of vaccines, such as tailored immunization programming, online immunization registries and monitoring of public attitudes toward immunization. Evidence-based decision-making on immunization will also be enhanced by strengthening the role of national technical advisory groups.

WHO/Europe will provide technical support to Member States to ensure full implementation of the Plan.

Alignment with guiding principles and policies

EVAP is a regional interpretation of the Global Vaccine Action Plan that addresses the specific needs and challenges related to immunization in the WHO European Region.  It is aligned with Health 2020 and other key regional health strategies and polices, and was formulated through a consultative process involving Member States, partners and the European Technical Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization before submission to the 64th session of the Regional Committee for Europe.