An immunization training center is being developed by the Indiana University School of Medicine and its Kenyan partner Moi University School of Medicine; funding for the Center has been provided by The Merck Company Foundation. The Foundation has committed $200,000 a year, up to a maximum of $600,000 over three years. This is a second phase of funding from the Merck Foundation. In the initial four years of funding, vaccine training curricula were developed and over 200 managers of the Kenyan vaccine delivery system were trained. The trainings focused on developing logistic, management, and data analysis skills.
This renewed funding will allow us to expand our Merck Vaccine Network-Africa training efforts, currently focused in western Kenya, to the eastern provinces of the country and to establish a vaccine training facilty at Moi University. In addition, it will allow the program to move from a "virtual" center to a physical facility, to be housed in the new Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health Mother-Baby Hospital on the Moi University Campus.
Edward Liechty of IUSM and Moi University School of Medicine Dean Fabian Esamai, who also is a pediatrician, co-direct the Merck Vaccine Network-Africa center in Eldoret, Kenya which provides training to mid- and high-level managers of Kenyan's national immunization program.
Vaccines for children are provided free by the GAVI Alliance but no system existed to coordinate immunizations and much of the vaccine was wasted, Liechty said.
The Merck Vaccine Network-Africa provides training for management of immunization programs. Kenyan children receive vaccines for poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza, measles, tuberculosis, pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus.
GAVI Alliance is a public-private partnership that works to extend the reach and quality of immunization coverage in least-developed countries. In Kenya, about 10 percent of the children die before reaching the age of 5, according to the World Health Organization. Many succumb to diseases preventable with vaccines.
In 2003, the Merck Company Foundation first committed funding to IU School of Medicine and Moi University to establish the vaccination services training program. The MVN-A was founded as part of Merck & Co., Inc.'s commitment to the GAVI Alliance. Also, the United Nations launched an initiative to reduce the incidence of debilitating or deadly disease in children, which can be prevented by routine vaccinations. Merck Vaccine Network-Africa now has centers in Uganda, Mali, and Zambia, in addition to the center in Eldoret.
As a result of this United Nation's initiative, deaths worldwide from measles alone have decreased by 75 percent since 1999 in Africa, according to data released earlier this year by WHO. Worldwide, measles deaths have been reduced by 60 percent in the same period, which the WHO calls a major public health success.
The IU School of Medicine and Moi University have worked jointly for nearly 20 years to improve health care and health education in Kenya.
For more information on the program...
Please visit the IU-Kenya Partnership Website.