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Mary Hardin
IU School of Medicine

Last modified: Monday, November 26, 2007

Merck Foundation expands immunization program through School of Medicine, Moi University partnership

Nov. 21, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS -- A grant that funds immunization training centers coordinated by the Indiana University School of Medicine and its Kenyan partner Moi University School of Medicine has been renewed by The Merck Company Foundation.

The Foundation has committed $200,000 a year, up to a maximum of $600,000 over three years.

"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," said program co-director Edward A. Liechty, professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine.

Liechty 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.

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.

When announcing the renewed funding to the IU-Moi University partnership, the Merck Company Foundation also announced a $2.8 million commitment to establish two new immunization training centers in Uganda and Zambia and to expand existing center support in Mali and in Kenya. The commitments more than double the Foundation's total funding to $4.4 million for these four centers.

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, see

More information on the Merck Vaccine Network- Africa can be found at For more information on the GAVI Alliance, see