GAVI and the
Vaccine Fund provide a major boost to child vaccination in China
Vaccinate All Its Children Against Hepatitis B
BEIJING, 31 May 2002 As part of its
commitment to protect the lives of millions of children around the
world, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and The
Vaccine Fund will sign an agreement on 1 June with the Chinese
Government to vaccinate children in China against hepatitis B, with a
special focus on the 12 poorest provinces.
The agreement involves funding of US $75 million, of which the
Government of China provides 50 per cent and GAVI and the Vaccine Fund
provide the other 50 per cent. Over the next five years, the Vaccine
Fund resources will be used to assure that infants born in China are
immunized against hepatitis B.
The official signing ceremony, to be held in The Great Hall of the
People on Children's Day, illustrates the Chinese Government's
commitment to promoting the health and development of its children. The
Chinese Minister of Health, Dr. Zhang Wenkang, will sign for China while
Ms Carol Bellamy, GAVI Chair and UNICEF Executive Director, will sign
for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).
Mr. Jim Jones, Executive Vice President of The Vaccine Fund, will sign
on behalf of The Vaccine Fund.
Childhood is a critical time in life. It is a time when we have an
opportunity to protect a childs future. Vaccines are one of the most
cost-effective and powerful tools to guarantee a childs future health,
said Ms. Bellamy. I applaud the Chinese Government in this effort.
Although China has a very good immunization programme, many poor
children living in remote areas do not have access to hepatitis B
vaccination. Through this partnership the Chinese Government will
integrate hepatitis B vaccination into its routine childhood
immunization programmes throughout the country. The hepatitis B vaccine
is highly effective.
We anticipate a dramatic decrease in liver cancer over the next two
decades, said Dr. Mark Kane, GAVI Board member and Director of the
Childrens Vaccine Program at PATH. Dr. Kane worked closely with the
Government of China and GAVI partners on the new agreement and noted
that this was a culmination of a deliberate and thoughtful process.
Now, for the first time, all children are going to receive this
Hepatitis B is a global health problem causing the deaths of nearly one
million people every year. Nearly one-third of these deaths occur in
China. Children are at high risk of being infected, and many of those
who are infected develop liver cancer in adulthood. Hepatitis B-related
liver cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Chinese
The resources provided under the agreement will be used to train health
workers, provide logistics and support quality communication,
supervision and monitoring activities. The funds will also be used to
provide the vaccine and over 500 million auto-disable (AD) syringes and
safety boxes to ensure safe injection practices and foster the
development of a local AD syringe industry in China.
The auto-disable syringe includes a safety device that prevents its
reuse. WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and the Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies have adopted a global policy on injection safety,
urging the use of auto-disable syringes for all immunization by the end
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) is a coalition
of organizations launched in 1999 in response to stagnating global
immunization rates and widening disparities in vaccine access among
industrialized and developing countries. The GAVI partners include:
national governments, the Gates Childrens Vaccine Program at PATH, the
International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations
(IFPMA), research and public health institutions, the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, UNICEF, the World Bank
Group and the World Health Organization (WHO).