Viewpoint: $7.5 Billion on the Table for Vaccines: Will Leaders Keep Their Word?

Friday, February 27, 2015

What happens when the cameras power down, the microphones are put away, and the jets take off?

That’s a question many citizens ask themselves when they see their leaders in the headlines, making a fiery speech or a bold pledge from a podium in a faraway city.

An ambitious promise

Just last month, world leaders gathered in Berlin to publicly declare that they are working together to prevent child deaths globally. At the end of the day, ambitious speeches were matched with equally-ambitious funding commitments: Donors pledged a total of $7.539 billion over the next five years to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to accelerate access to vaccines among the world’s poorest kids.

Whether donors would meet Gavi’s funding ask of $7.5 billion remained uncertain up to the last minute – even though the investment case was solid. If global partners raised that sum, Gavi estimated it could support the world’s poorest countries to vaccinate 300 million additional children from 2016-2020, preventing up to 6 million deaths. This number is on top of the half a billion children already vaccinated with Gavi support since its creation in 2000.

Across the many countries where ACTION partners work, we are constantly reminded that now is a time of tight national budgets. But even under tight budget constraints, leaders said they value Gavi’s impact on child health. The extent to which donors stepped up to meet Gavi’s ambitious goal is truly astounding: Germany upped their total pledges by 311 percent from the previous 5-year period, the European Union did so by 293 percent and Canada increased its commitment by 53 percent. And new pledges from the U.S. and UK governments each topped $1 billion.

The hard work begins

Pledges and commitments are just words – words that require careful and persistent pressure to transform into real funding for real impact. Civil society around the world must now play a watchdog role to guarantee commitments are delivered – on time. Gavi relies on long-term funding agreements, with regular and dependable payments, to reduce vaccine prices and ensure countries can plan ahead for sustainable access to new vaccines.

Over the past two years, the ACTION global health advocacy partnership has followed the funding for Gavi, tracking whether donors met previous commitments. Although our findingsshowed the majority of donors were on track to deliver their 2011-2015 pledges, we did highlight where more effort and follow through was needed.

Source: Reuters (link opens in a new window)

Health Care