Innovative technologies

It has been estimated that, with modern health technology, Africa could make in two decades the level of progress reached by Europe in 150 years. Immunisation is one of the most significant medical advances of our time. In recent history, it has eradicated smallpox, reduced the global incidence of polio by 99%, and dramatically decreased many other causes of illness and death.

Since 2000, immunisation programmes funded by the GAVI Alliance has averted an estimated 3.4 million deaths in developing countries, making a significant contribution to preventing and containing infectious diseases and building healthy, self-sustaining societies.

Vaccine technologies on which this progress depends have been evolving rapidly but the benefits are unevenly spread. Formulating and testing new products is a lengthy and expensive process and the pharmaceutical industry seeks to recoup its investments by targeting rich markets.

The commercial return is less certain in poor countries so few vaccines are developed to meet their needs. Advanced products are often unaffordable or take 10-15 years to decline in price sufficiently to reach regions where their benefit is potentially greatest.

GAVI is using Accelerated Development and Introduction Plans (ADIPs) and Advance Market Commitments (AMCs) to create volume and pricing conditions that help make poor countries a commercially viable proposition for the private sector. These have a positive effect on competition. GAVI – in cooperation with WHO – also maintains close links with the industry’s R&D community to ensure a productive two-way flow of information between the product developers and user communities.

Innovative vaccines bring new challenges. Many are physically bigger and bulkier with implications for cold-chain storage and distribution that make new demands on the quality of delivery systems. Efforts to accelerate the introduction of new vaccine products must be matched by investments to ensure their safe, efficient use.

GAVI already supports injection safety programmes in implementing countries to prevent infection from re-use of syringes. Since 2007 it has also been funding new Health System Strengthening (HSS) programmes that encourage and enable countries to identify infrastructure and resource weaknesses that are barriers to the achievement of immunisation and other public health goals.