The theme for this year’s 3rd International Neonatal & Maternal Immunisation Symposium was ‘Global Strategies for Global Impact’. The symposium which was hosted by Professor Beate Kampmann, Theme Leader for Vaccines and Immunity was attended by 108 delegates from 22 different countries and took place at the Sheraton Hotel from 4th to 6th November 2015.In attendance were scientists and clinicians working in the field, individuals from the vaccine industry and representatives from international agencies, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, PATH Foundation, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organisation.
Neonatal and early infant morbidity and mortality remain the highest in low and middle income countries and any preventative and strategic measures such as maternal and neonatal immunisation could have a significant impact, hence the theme for this year’s meeting was “Global Strategies for Global Impact”.
The different four sessions of the conference focused on basic science underpinning immunisation strategies in pregnancy and infancy, the state of play for vaccines already in use for maternal immunisation, other vaccines under discussion for maternal or neonatal immunisation and safety and acceptability. A panel discussion between the audience, industry representatives, funders and regional and national WHO delegates concluded the meeting.
The symposium featured invited talks from lead experts in maternal and infant health research mixed with shorter presentations of ongoing science from selected submissions. The presenters provided an update on key areas in maternal and neonatal immunisation such as the development and utilisation of vaccines for pathogens that affect maternal and child health. These include pertussis, influenza, group B streptococcus, respiratory syncytial virus, meningococcus and pneumococcus.
The delegates had a number of interactive discussions, covering lessons learnt from previous clinical trials in maternal and neonatal studies carried out in Africa, Europe, United States and South America and how studies could inform policy to significantly shape the roadmap for research and practice. A number of bursaries from the BMGF were made available for participants from low and middle income countries, many of whom presented posters.
A collegiate and interactive atmosphere was enjoyed by everyone involved, and all agreed that the setting in The Gambia had provided a fitting place to bring the researchers together for the challenges and opportunities ahead.