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Press Release from Norwegian Government
No: 85/2000
Date: 13.06.00

Norway to grant 1 billion kroner to campaign for child immunization

Norway’s Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, today announced that Norway would pledge 1 billion kroner, or about 125 million US dollars over five years in support of child immunization in developing countries.

- In Norway we take child immunization for granted. But 30 million children grow up without vaccination. About 3 million of them will die as a result. That amounts to six every minute - every day, every week, every year, Mr. Stoltenberg said.

- And yet it is a story of hope. Because we can do something about it. Norway will lend its political and financial support to the global initiative to immunize every child. We will propose a grant of 200 million kroner (25 million USD) in the budget for 2001 and maintain that level of support for the next five years, the Prime Minister said.

Mr. Stoltenberg announced the donation at an international symposium hosted by the Norwegian Government and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) in Oslo today. GAVI is gathering the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, industry and foundations. Norway’s donation follows the donation made by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation last year of 750 million dollars over five years to GAVI.

The Prime Minister stressed that support to immunization is a support to the development of health systems in poor countries.

- The injection of a vaccine is a powerful illustration of hope. But we know what it takes to get to the point where a trained health worker can provide that injection. It takes money. It takes infrastructure. It takes trained people. In short - it takes a health system, Mr. Stoltenberg said.

Norway will focus on health systems support in cooperation with multilateral partners such as UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank and in bilateral cooperation with partner countries.

- Sustainable health systems can only be built if they are owned and developed by the countries themselves, Mr. Stoltenberg said.

As a concrete example, the Prime Minister mentioned Nigeria:

- In 1990 almost 90 per cent of Nigerian children were immunized. Ten years later that number had declined to 20 percent. During the last decade the health system broke down. Enough vaccines were available. But they never reached the ones who so badly needed them. Because the generals did not care, Mr. Stoltenberg said.

- Now President Olusegun Obasanjo - elected by the aspiration of a great people - is rebuilding that infrastructure. From the local level to the federal level. He shares our objective; to help immunize every child. Norway will support the people of Nigeria in rebuilding the health system and thereby securing the foundation of democracy, the Norwegian Prime Minister said.

President Obasanjo will visit Norway on 26 June.


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