Prime Minister of India Opens Two-Day Meeting;
Calls on World Leaders to Embrace Vaccines as Key to Saving Children's Lives
7 December 2005 - NEW DELHI -- Speaking with
passion about the dramatic potential of vaccines to prevent the deaths
of millions of the world's poorest children, Indian Prime Minister Dr.
Manmohan Singh opened the 3rd Partners' Meeting of the GAVI Alliance
(the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) in New Delhi.
"Vaccines are a cornerstone of our efforts in India to
build a better future for our children. They are vital as well in
fulfilling the promise we made as world leaders in signing on to the UN
Millennium Development Goals, in particular the commitment to reduce
child mortality worldwide," the Prime Minister told an audience of 400
public health leaders, policymakers, and vaccine researchers and
manufacturers at the opening ceremony. "This event represents an
opportunity to talk about the progress made in reaching the 27 million
children a year who still miss out on basic vaccines that are part of
routine care in wealthier nations, as well as a chance to tell the
world that there is hope for addressing other killer diseases with new
vaccines that are now in the pipeline."
Joined by Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and
Bill and Melinda Gates, co-founders of the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation, Prime Minister Singh called on world leaders to continue to
support the work of the GAVI Alliance, a global health public-private
partnership focused on increasing access to vaccines among children in
the poorest countries of the world. GAVI partners include national
governments, UNICEF, WHO, The World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation, the vaccine industry, public health institutions, and NGOs.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg also
announced a dramatic increase in support from the Norwegian government
for GAVI from 300 to 500 million Norwegian kroner or US$75 million
annually through 2015. Norway will also support the IFFIm at the same
level as Sweden.
"I am pleased to announce today that we have the
ambition of taking a leading role in making the Millennium Development
Goal number four a reality. It says that child mortality should be
reduced by two-thirds by the year 2015. I want this to be achieved,"
said Prime Minister Stoltenberg. "It is unnecessary and unacceptable
that a child dies every three seconds, that more than 26,000 children
die every day, that more than 10 million children die every year. One
third of these children can be saved by vaccines available today or in
the very near future. This is why we invest in children's health
through the GAVI Alliance."
"It's clear that vaccines are a critical investment in
human life and potential. The power of vaccines reaches far beyond
individual lives -- with healthier children, families can be more
productive, economies can grow, and countries can develop," said
Melinda Gates. "The GAVI Alliance has reinvigorated the world's
commitment to immunization, and we are proud to support it."
The GAVI Partners' Meeting in New Delhi brings together
the world's foremost experts in public health and vaccines, as well as
policymakers and other world leaders in global health from Europe,
Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Workshops and plenaries at the meeting
will focus on progress and challenges in immunizing the world's poorest
children and in developing and financing new vaccines for diseases such
as pneumococcal disease, Japanese encephalitis, and against rotavirus
which causes potentially deadly diarrheal disease.
The following are among the topics that will be addressed:
- What strategies are being considered to cover the
long-term cost of financing vaccine coverage for children in poor
countries, particularly in light of the promising new vaccines now in
- What is needed to strengthen healthcare and delivery systems?
- What progress has been made in the search for new
vaccine candidates for deadly diseases such as Japanese encephalitis,
pneumococcal disease, and diseases caused by the rotavirus?
- What new tools and technologies are improving immunization rates among children who are the poorest and hardest to reach?
- What progress has been made in ensuring injection safety, and what challenges remain?
Created with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation and 11 donor nations, GAVI has proven to be a great
investment, Stoltenberg said. He pointed to a recent Harvard University
study in which the authors suggested that vaccines not only save
individual lives but can also increase economic prosperity in countries
with higher coverage rates.
"Good health leads to higher productivity, lower
absenteeism, and heightened job satisfaction," Stoltenberg said.
"People with good health also live longer and are more interested in
developing their skills and educating themselves and their children.
And, improved health shows up in a lower mortality rate; this leads to
a lower birth rate and better control over population trends -- both of
which are critical to fighting poverty."
GAVI and its partners, among them UNICEF and the World
Health Organization, have helped some of the world's poorest nations
increase their use of basic vaccines and introduce life-saving vaccines
that had not been used widely before in these countries. Over the next
ten years, the innovative new funding mechanism known as the
International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm) will use the
capital markets to raise funds to expand GAVI programs. The pledges of
support for IFFIm, from the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, and
Sweden, will provide US$4 billion to support and scale up GAVI's work.
"GAVI and its global health partners WHO and UNICEF
give credit to the leadership and commitment of the donors to GAVI,"
noted Stoltenberg. "But we cannot understate the importance of the role
that the Alliance and its partners have played in going beyond the job
at hand to create a vision and a global strategy for the future,
tracking the needs and bringing in the governments of target countries
to design their own plans for how to get things done. Whether the work
is going on in the field, in the laboratory, or in the halls of
government, we are here to report that we are making progress against
the diseases that have caused so much death and heartache in the
world's poorest nations."
"The Value of Vaccination," (
PDF - 119K)
by David E. Bloom, David Canning & Mark Weston, World Economics
(NTC Economic & Financial Publishing in association with The Oxford
Institute for Economic Policy: Volume 6, Number 3, July-September 2005).
# # #
The GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and
Immunization) was launched in 2000 to increase immunization rates and
reverse widening global disparities in access to vaccines. Governments
in industrialized and developing countries, UNICEF, WHO, the World
Bank, non-governmental organizations, foundations, vaccine
manufacturers, and public health and research institutions work
together as partners in the Alliance, to achieve common immunization
goals, in the recognition that only through a strong and united effort
can much higher levels of support for global immunization be generated.
Funds channeled through GAVI's financing arm, The GAVI Fund, are used
to help strengthen health and immunization services, accelerate access
to selected vaccines and new vaccine technologies - especially vaccines
that are new or under-used, and improve injection safety. In addition
to substantial funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
The GAVI Fund (formerly The Vaccine Fund) has been financed by 10
governments to date, as well as the European Union and private