GAVI - The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization

Nelson Mandela Praises The Vaccine Fund and GAVI for Protecting Over 30 Million of the World’s Poorest Children with Vaccines

Johannesburg, South Africa 09.09.2003 - Highlighting the progress achieved by The Vaccine Fund and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) in reaching over 30 million of the world’s poorest children with life saving vaccines in just three years, President Nelson Mandela (read his opening remarks) today chaired the second annual meeting of The Vaccine Fund’s Board of Directors in Johannesburg.

“Our primary mission is life critical. Our goal is very clear: to address the gross inequities in child health still existing in the world today. Life or death for a young child too often depends on whether he is born in a country where vaccines are available or not," said President Mandela in his opening statement to the Board.

“Well over 30 million children have benefited from over $250 million in new vaccines and infrastructure funding made available to over 60 countries and millions of the world’s children are now protected against diseases. As many as 300,000 deaths will be prevented due to the good work The Vaccine Fund and partners have done thus far.

“Funding is paramount. We must use our individual and corporate voices - everyone in this room - to advocate on behalf of children and to demand on their behalf a fundamental equity which guarantees they will not lack the most basic and effective disease prevention tool available, a vaccine. In some cases, they cost but pennies a dose, in others more. Whether the costs are low or high, the issue is of fundamental fairness.

“Let us raise our voices and the consciousness of the world around this great and urgent issue. Urgent because as we gather here in this beautiful hotel, out there not too far away there are literally thousands of children who become sick and die each day from preventable diseases. As much as we have accomplished over the past three years, much more needs to be done," he said.

Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan participated in the Board Meeting via videoconference. Other members of the Board in attendance included Graça Machel, vice chairman of the Board; Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland; Patty Stonesifer, co-chair and president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Jacques-François Martin, president and CEO of the Vaccine Fund; Tore Godal, Executive Secretary of GAVI; George Wellde, managing director of Goldman Sachs; Charles “Chip" Lyons, president of U.S. Fund for UNICEF; and Dwight Bush, a U.S. business executive.

Since 2000, The Vaccine Fund and GAVI have disbursed over $250 million to 68 countries with the following results: approximately 30 million of the world’s children have been protected with vaccines against hepatitis B, Hib and/or yellow fever. Eight million of those children were reached with vaccines for the first time. Through 2005, over $1.2 billion has been committed to these countries for health infrastructure, vaccines and supplies.

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The Vaccine Fund is the financing arm of GAVI, launched in 2000 as a public-private partnership to reverse the decline in immunization coverage that many developing countries experienced during the 1990s. Partners include national governments, UNICEF, WHO, The World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, vaccine industry, public institutions and nongovernmental organizations.

In addition to an initial grant from the Gates Foundation, The Vaccine Fund has been further financed by nine governments -- United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Canada and Denmark -- and additional private contributors. However, in order to continue supporting GAVI immunization goals, The Vaccine Fund will need substantial new funding by the end of 2004.

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