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Countries tell GAVI they mean
LESS than four short months since
the launch of the Alliance, more than 50 countries have signed
up to participate in its initiative. From Kyrgyzstan to Cambodia
and Cuba to Côte dIvoire, governments have sent GAVI
an emphatic message: they are committed to wider immunization
and determined to deliver it. But, like GAVIs partners, they
warn that the initiative needs sustained investment to succeed.
Early this year, the Alliance invited all countries
with an income of less than US$1000 per capita to express
their interest in receiving support from the Vaccine Fund, launched by GAVI with
an initial gift of US$750 million over five years from
the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. More than two-thirds
of the countries had responded by early April, detailing
their current immunization activities, plans and needs.
This month, GAVI is sending countries documents to make
their formal proposals, with the first grants to be
made later this year. For a map of the countries, see
Eyes on the future: this winters
babies could be the first to benefit
Part of the Vaccine Fund is to be spent on newer
vaccines such as those against hepatitis B and yellow fever, which
many governments are keen to introduce. "We are confident that Ghana
has the capacity to deliver the newer vaccines now," says Dr Jama
Gulaid, head of the health programme at UNICEF in Accra. Likewise,
Cambodias health ministry has told GAVI that it could introduce
hepatitis B vaccine into its programme "as soon as late 2000...
if resources become available".
No one is complacent about the challenges ahead,
however. Ciro de Quadros, Director of the Division of Vaccines and
Immunization at the Pan American Health Organization, warns that
more donors to the Vaccine Fund are needed if the effort is to be
sustained beyond 2005, and that countries need support to improve
their systems for delivering vaccines. Support for infrastructure
is part of GAVIs plans.
The Alliance announced
last month that it needed $200 million more per year, on top of
the $150 million per year already pledged to the Vaccine Fund, to
halve the number of un-immunized children in poor countries by 2005.
For more information see
the Report of the Second Board Meeting at www.VaccineAlliance.org/reference/
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