Along with the UK Prime Minister David Cameron (centre), many other key participants attended the conference (left-right): Seth Berkley, incoming Chief Executive Officer, GAVI Alliance; Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia; Princess Cristina, “la Caixa” Foundation; Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Andrew Mitchell, UK Secretary of State for International Development; Dagfinn Høybråten, Chair of the GAVI Alliance board. Source: Ben Fisher/GAVI/2011.
LONDON – Major public and private donors achieved a milestone in global health today by committing funding to immunise more than 250 million of the world’s poorest children against life-threatening diseases by 2015 and prevent more than four million premature deaths.
Donors committed US$ 4.3 billion at the first pledging conference held by the GAVI Alliance. This exceeds an initial target of $3.7 billion, enabling GAVI to reach more children faster than planned and to accelerate the introduction of new vaccines. A portion of the pledges are conditional upon GAVI raising additional funds from new donors in the future. Today’s pledges bring GAVI’s total available resources for the period 2011 to 2015 to $ 7.6 billion.
The increased support is timely. GAVI recently reported a record 50 countries applied for vaccine funding during the Alliance’s latest application round – nearly double the previous record in 2007. This new support will allow GAVI to fully fund approved applications.
“Today is an important moment in our collective commitment to protecting children in developing countries from disease,” said President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. “But every 20 seconds, a child still dies of a vaccine-preventable disease. There’s more work to be done.”
The meeting convened prime ministers, ministers and high-level officials from donor and developing countries, leaders of UN Agencies, CEOs from private companies and senior civil society leaders to make commitments to support GAVI’s life-saving work. The meeting was hosted by the governments of the United Kingdom and Liberia and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Governments more than doubled their previous commitments and new donors will also give for the first time, including Japan and Brazil. GAVI’s largest corporate donor, “la Caixa” Foundation, extended its financial commitment and new donors Anglo American plc and Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) made their first pledges.
Developing countries committed to maintain or increase the co-financing of their vaccine programmes and leverage the partnership to immunise their children. GAVI estimates that the total level of co-financing will triple to US$ 100 million by 2015. Vaccine manufacturers announced last week they will contribute by offering lower prices on a range of life-saving vaccines supported by GAVI, including a two-thirds reduction on the rotavirus vaccine, which combats the leading cause of diarrhea deaths. Co-financing and lower prices will enhance the sustainability of immunisation programmes.
“GAVI was one of the very top performers in our root-and-branch review of the agencies that deliver British aid because it demonstrates tangible results. Britain will play its full part and our support to GAVI will help vaccinate over 80 million children and save 1.4 million lives. That’s one child vaccinated every two seconds for five years,” said David Cameron, UK Prime Minister.
“For the first time in history, children in developing countries will receive the same vaccines against diarrhea and pneumonia as children in rich countries,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Together we must do more to ensure that all children – no matter where they live – have equal access to life-saving vaccines.”
Conference participants agreed that the momentum to reach more children with vaccines must be maintained and they encouraged GAVI to expand coverage of immunisation programmes and accelerate the introduction of new vaccines. It was also recognised that vaccine manufacturers should continue to deliver and expand on their promises to reduce vaccine prices and provide greater access, while the countries themselves should continue to meet their co-financing commitments. Participants also agreed to meet in two years time to review GAVI’s progress in immunisation and resource mobilisation.
“Today was a vote of confidence for GAVI. But it was also a challenge to us: to keep delivering on our mission and to do even more. Nearly two million children die from vaccine-preventable diseases every year. The day will come when malaria and other killer diseases can be beaten with a simple shot in the arm. We must prepare for that day. Working with partners, GAVI will need to continue to raise the necessary resources to tackle all vaccine-preventable diseases,” said GAVI Alliance Board Chair Dagfinn Høybråten.
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