GAVI and Vaccine Fund approve awards to 11 more countries; 5-year commitments now exceed $ 600 million
Carol Bellamy of UNICEF to become GAVI Board Chair, United Kingdom, UN Foundation and Pasteur Institute Join GAVI Board
LONDON, 25 June The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the Vaccine Fund have approved a fourth round of funding awards, bringing the vaccine efforts total commitments over the next five years to more than $600 million for immunization programs in 36 of the poorest countries in the developing world. The GAVI board also welcomed UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy as its new chair, and the United Kingdom, the United Nations Foundation and the Pasteur Institute as new board members. The decisions came out at the fifth GAVI board meeting held here last week.
Were up and running, said Jacques-Francois Martin, a former pharmaceutical company executive who is now president of the Vaccine Fund. Just one year after we issued the first call for proposals were delivering vaccines and saving lives.
The Vaccine Fund is a financially independent mechanism which makes its funding decisions based on the recommendations of the GAVI Board.
Of the 25 countries that were approved in the first three rounds, 11 countries have already received their first instalment of financial support from the Vaccine Fund to strengthen their health infrastructures, and 5 have received shipments of vaccines. Working with newly developed, long-term purchasing agreements with manufacturers, GAVI and the Vaccine Fund have already committed to purchase more than 300 million doses of vaccines over the next three years; these new grants will increase that commitment as well.
The power of GAVI is in the collaboration between partners, said Ms Bellamy, who will take over as chair of the GAVI board on 1 July, following the two-year term of Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of WHO. When you have UN agencies, industrialized country donors, vaccine manufacturers, and developing country health officials all sitting around the same table, public health programs can be much more effective.
In addition to welcoming Ms Bellamy as chair, the GAVI Board welcomed the government of the United Kingdom, represented by UK Secretary of State Clare Short; the United Nations Foundation, represented by President Tim Wirth; and the Pasteur Institute, represented General Director Philippe Kourilsky. They will replace representatives from the government of Canada, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the US National Institutes of Health, respectively, whose two-year terms will end 30 June.
As in past rounds, an independent review committee of developing country health experts assessed the proposals submitted to GAVI by countries, presenting their recommendations to the GAVI Board. In this round, the proposals from Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Nigeria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe have been approved for support; twenty-five other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas have already been approved in past rounds. Initial grants of vaccines and funding are made based on a careful review of country applications. Subsequent grants will be made depending on the countrys ability to implement the plan and meet its goals.
The Vaccine Fund award process, designed and operated by the partners of GAVI, efficiently channels resources to developing country health systems so that approximately 98% of current Vaccine Fund resources go directly to countries. Based on the strength of countries programs and their needs, support from the Vaccine Fund can take the form of financial assistance to strengthen health infrastructure, or provision of newer, under-used vaccines such as hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).
At present, vaccines save more than three million lives per year. However, GAVI estimates that another three million die because they lack access to immunization. Measles a disease virtually unseen in rich countries today kills nearly one million children every year. Liver disease caused by hepatitis B claims another 900,000 lives annually.
The Vaccine Fund was launched by GAVI partners with a five-year, $750 million contribution from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2000. Since its launch, the Vaccine Fund has secured additional funding from the governments of Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States, The Netherlands and Denmark, bringing its total funding to over $1 billion.
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