Global Coalition on Aging and Pfizer Global Medical Grants Partner to Launch Grant Program to Increase Vaccine Usage Among Older Adults in Japan

The $1 million VALUE initiative will build on Japan’s 2019 G20 leadership

New York, NEW YORK (November 19, 2019) – The Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) and Pfizer Global Medical Grants today officially launched a partnership to improve uptake of vaccines among Japanese older adults. Through $1 million USD in grant awards, the Vaccines for All: Longevity Unleashed for Everyone (VALUE) initiative will support, advance, and validate quality improvement strategies that measurably increase the number of older adults in Japan who are immunized against at least one targeted vaccine-preventable disease. It will also uncover pathways for more effective management of health costs in Japan’s aging society.

“Vaccines are one of the great success stories of public health in the 20th century, and just as we have and will continue to invest in our children’s health through vaccination schedules and global initiatives, we now recognize under the Japan G20 leadership that adults, too, are in scope for global immunization efforts,” said Michael W. Hodin, CEO of GCOA. “As a super-aging society, Japan has an opportunity to leverage an immunization prevention strategy, one of the most important and cost-effective tools in our public health arsenal. Action is urgent, especially as there will soon be 2 billion of us over 60, and, for the first time in the history of humanity, more old than young globally.”

As life expectancy extends, older adults become increasingly susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases. Adults over 55 make up 40.39% of the total Japanese population, and this figure is growing. This dramatic demographic realignment brings about new pressures on health and care systems and economies and creates a need for strategies – such as a life-course approach to immunization – that help ensure older adults remain healthy, active, and productive members of society.

The partners first announced the VALUE initiative at the 2nd Well Ageing Society Summit (WASS), alongside the G20 Health Ministerial, which met later that week. The G20 Health Ministerial helped to define policies and actions for aging societies, where healthy aging must be a centerpiece. WASS, organized by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), in partnership with the Office of Healthcare Policy, Cabinet Secretariat; the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW); and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED), gathered experts to facilitate global networking for aging and innovation. As an official side event to the G20 Health Ministerial, WASS served as the launching pad to announce the new VALUE initiative to hundreds of global participants from government, private sector, academics, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations.

As global awareness grows around the importance of adult vaccines as a central part of 21st-century aging needs, there is ever more urgency in super-aging societies such as Japan. The initiative will have global significance and reach as well, as the launch, awarding of grants, and rollout of grantees’ projects will take place aligned with the declaration of the WHO Decade of Healthy Ageing at the World Health Assembly in May 2020.

VALUE is a very exciting initiative and a great example of the positive outcomes we can achieve through public/private partnerships,” said Dr. John Beard, Chair of the Global Coalition on Aging Advisory Council and former Director of Ageing and Life Course at the WHO. “Linking VALUE to global interests in healthy and active aging – the G20, APEC, and also now the WHO Decade of Healthy Ageing – will enable us to learn from Japan even as this initiative contributes to better outcomes for Japan’s aging population itself.”

This new initiative serves as an urgent call-to-action to improve individual and health system behaviors focused on disease prevention and wellness as we age.  When vaccines are not utilized or under-utilized, the result is an increased vulnerability to several diseases, especially with age (e.g., shingles, pneumococcal disease and influenza).  Vaccines are already known to save 6 million lives worldwide every year. In the US, an annual average of 30,000+ die of vaccine-preventable diseases and more than 95% of these persons are adults.  As we age, vaccinations can improve quality of life by reducing risks for morbidity and disability and have the potential to increase life expectancy, while having positive impacts on healthcare costs, especially hospitalization, readmissions and physician visits. Sadly, 15% of older adults hospitalized with influenza will suffer catastrophic disability and lose independence.

“Japan, as one of the world’s leading economies with one of the most robust health systems, can pave the way for healthier longevity for all Japanese through increasing uptake of vaccines in adults,” said Hodin. “By working in partnership with government leaders, NGOs and professional health and medical associations, the VALUE initiative will bring greater attention to the need, opportunity, and pathways for solutions and uncover innovative strategies that can measurably increase the number of older adults who are immunized against preventable diseases. In doing so, we expect that Japan will become a model for healthier longevity that others in developed and developing countries alike will follow.”

The VALUE initiative calls for the submission of a letter of intent (LOI) by January 10, 2020. A single or multiple grants will be issued for up to $1 million USD. Competitive LOIs will be evaluated by an External Review Panel of Japanese and international experts, with selected applicants invited to submit a full proposal for consideration. Japan-based medical, dental, nursing, allied health, and/or pharmacy professional schools; healthcare institutions (both large and small); professional associations; government agencies; and other entities with a mission related to healthcare improvement are invited to apply. For more information about the VALUE Request for Proposals and how to submit a letter of intent, click here.

About Pfizer Global Medical Grants

Pfizer Global Medical Grants (GMG) supports the global healthcare community’s independent initiatives (e.g., research, quality improvement or education) to improve patient outcomes in areas of unmet medical need that are aligned with Pfizer’s medical and/or scientific strategies.

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