Viewpoint: Be Bold: How Gavi Will Immunise Another 300 Million Children

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A challenge stands before us: ensuring immunisation of the world’s poorest children. If we, as global citizens can meet it, we will help protect the lives of millions in places too poor to afford vaccines.

Despite remarkable progress made by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in helping to immunise half a billion children since 2000, nearly one-in-five children are still missing out, such that every year, 1.5 million still die from vaccine-preventable diseases.

This Vaccine Alliance – created by a group of bold individuals – helped to arrest stagnating and declining immunisation rates by coalescing the strengths of UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, theBill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others to achieve what no single agency could.

Working closely with them, our country partners and civil society, Gavi brought new and underused vaccines to the remotest parts of the world. Pentavalent – which includes five vaccines in a single shot – now has reached all 73 of the poorest countries.

But children still are dying, and we must remain bold. Introducing a vaccine into a country is just the beginning. That vaccine also must reach every child, no matter how remote, how difficult the terrain or how “hidden” his family, which could be refugees, urban slum dwellers or nomadic people.

When Gavi recently analysed how to expand vaccine coverage – the challenge of our 2016-2020 programme – countries told us they need enough vaccines to reach 300 million children. To achieve this, Gavi needed another US$ 7.5 billion from donors. Gavi has been particularly innovative in bringing down the prices of vaccines (by up to 95% in some cases) and raising money in the bond markets and from private sector donors. But this was a lot of money, and there was much internal hesitation to make such an ask, given the global economic climate. Should we reduce our request to a “digestible” amount, cutting programmes that save children’s lives?

Source: Gates Foundation (link opens in a new window)

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