Immunisation conference celebrates 10 years of NCIRS
19 July 2007
The world has made big advances in immunisation programs in the past ten years but continued success depends on countries honouring their funding promises, a University conference heard yesterday.
The conference, A Decisive Decade in Immunisation, celebrated the tenth anniversary of the University's National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Diseases (NCIRS). A University of Sydney research unit, NCIRS was established at the Children's Hospital at Westmead by the Commonwealth Department of Health in August 1997.
NCIRS carries out research and gives independent expert advice about all aspects of diseases which can be prevented by vaccination, particularly in children. It provides a national perspective on social and other issues related to immunisation.
Sir Gustav Nossal, the distinguished Australian research biologist, former Australian of the Year and member of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) Task Force on Research and Development, said the involvement of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation involvement in immunisation has had "a dynamic effect on the global scene".
Professor Nossal, a Sydney University medical graduate, said that while there had been disappointments in the effort to develop vaccinations for typhoid and malaria, there were considerable gains with a Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccination program being introduced in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. A vaccination program for epidemic meningitis in Africa is also going well, he said.
"The good news with HIV Aids is that the world effort is substantial with strong attempts at collaboration. But everything about the progress of GAVI depends on the countries of the world honouring their funding promises," said Professor Nossal.
Before his appointment as Chief Medical Officer in September 2003, John Horvath was a Professor of Renal Medicine at the University of Sydney. Yesterday he said that Australia, too, had made considerable progress in the fight against preventable diseases. He said that 1997 was "a year that government finally put money on table," citing such advances as the childhood immunisation registry, targets for measles eradication, and school entry requirements.
Contact: Elizabeth Heath
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