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Press Release

Cambodia First Country in Southeast Asia to Receive Vaccines from Vaccine Fund

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, Aug. 17 – Building upon its unprecedented effort to support immunization programs in developing countries, the Vaccine Fund will launch a multi-country five-year initiative in Cambodia on 19 August, to increase access to immunization for children throughout Southeast Asia. Leaders of the global vaccination effort will be joined by Cambodian government officials at the Poh Mean Chey Health Center in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where they will witness the historic beginning of a campaign that is expected to affect the lives of millions of children throughout the region.

In collaboration with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the Cambodian Ministry of Health, the Vaccine Fund will hand over its first grant of vaccines in Southeast Asia. The Fund’s initial investment in Cambodia of $296,000 will be used to purchase a combination vaccine against hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP-hepB).

"With this trip, the Vaccine Fund begins fulfilling the promise of longer, healthier lives for impoverished children throughout Southeast Asia," said Jacques-Francois Martin, President of the Vaccine Fund. Martin will be joined in Siem Reap by GAVI Chairwoman and UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy, and United States Congressman Jim Kolbe. After presenting the first shipment of the new combination DTP-hepB vaccine to Siem Reap Governor Chap Nhalyvoud and Cambodian Minister of Health Hong Sun Huot, the delegation will witness the beginning of the Southeast Asia campaign as children receive the first inoculation.

Cambodia is the second poorest country in Southeast Asia, with an annual GDP per capita of only US$260. According to UNICEF, 8.6% of Cambodian children die before reaching their first birthday, and roughly 44,000 children under the age of 5 die each year. According to UNICEF and the World Health Organization, only 64 percent of Cambodia's children have been immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis – leaving fully a third without the benefit of basic vaccines which parents of children in industrialized nations take for granted.

In addition to Cambodia, the Vaccine Fund has announced more than $3.5 million in funding for vaccinations in neighboring Laos and Viet Nam. Laos has been approved to receive an initial award of $1.143 million for DTP-hepB vaccine. Only 56% of Laos’ children currently receive basic DTP vaccines. The Fund's $2.375 million investment in Viet Nam will also go toward increasing hepB vaccination coverage, which most Vietnamese children do not currently receive.

"The children of Cambodia represent only a fraction of those throughout Southeast Asia who lack routine vaccinations," said Martin. "Simply because a child is born into poverty does not mean they have any less of a right to the medicines that can help guarantee a longer, more productive life than a child born elsewhere. Through this effort we can not only begin to reduce this disparity, but allow these children, as healthy adults, to contribute to their nation’s economic growth."

The Vaccine Fund was launched last year with a grant of $750 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since then, 5 countries – Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States – have contributed an additional $250 million to the Fund's effort to address the immunization needs of the world's poorest countries. The Vaccine Fund has already committed more than $600 million to government immunization programs in 36 developing countries, providing financing needed to upgrade immunization services and purchase new and under-used vaccines.

GAVI is an unprecedented public-private partnership that includes UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, the pharmaceutical industry, governments of both industrialized and developing countries, and philanthropic organizations (including the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations). After receiving applications from governments, GAVI’s Board makes recommendations to the Vaccine Fund to allocate resources where they can have the greatest impact on the health and well-being of the developing world's children.


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