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WHO Statement


Patti Pierson, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Anne Winter, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization

Jean-Pierre Le Calvez ; The Vaccine Fund

Torbjørn G. Eriksen, press secretary to Jens Stoltenberg

UNICEF hails Gates and Norway vaccine contribution

NEW YORK, 25 January 2005 –  UNICEF today welcomed the major new contributions from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Government of Norway to global immunization programs, totaling more than $1 billion over ten years.

UNICEF, the world’s largest purchaser of childhood vaccines, hailed the long-term nature of the gift to The Vaccine Fund, which will help secure an uninterrupted and reliable supply of needed vaccines.  UNICEF said that ensuring multi-year funding for vaccine purchases has been one of the significant challenges to encouraging manufacturers to invest in vaccines.

"This contribution is an extraordinary gift to children.  We hope that the leadership of the Gates Foundation and Norway inspires other donors to step forward with multi-year commitments," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy.  "Although these donations are remarkably generous and visionary, more funds are required to meet the global demand for childhood vaccines."

Bellamy noted that the funds will primarily support the introduction of newer vaccines for children in the 72 poorest countries.  Newer vaccines, such as Hib, for example, tend to be more expensive than traditional childhood immunizations such as measles vaccine.  The Gates and Norway gift will make a huge difference in the gradual introduction of such vaccines.

UNICEF is proud to be a partner in the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, and procures vaccines on behalf of the GAVI alliance.

GAVI is one of several important immunization initiatives, such as the partnerships for measles and maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination and the global partnership for polio eradication.  UNICEF and WHO recently endorsed a new global immunization strategy that maps out the challenges to increasing immunization coverage and details tactics for addressing them.

"Immunization in some ways is taken for granted these days, yet it remains one of the most dynamic and evolving fields in public health," Bellamy said.  "International investments such as these are critical to enabling developing countries to keep up with and benefit from these changes and advances, while also maintaining their established programs of immunization for children."

For further information, contact:

Alfred Ironside, UNICEF Media, New York: (+1 212) 326-7261

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