One Year Later
One year ago, at the World Economic Forum in
Davos, a new partnership was formed to protect the worlds
most precious resource: our children. Leaders from UNICEF, WHO,
the World Bank, the pharmaceutical industry, governments from North
and South, and Bill Gates Jr., announced they would be joining forces
to make sure that every child starts life with the protection of
one of medical sciences greatest inventionsimmunization.
Today, vaccines prevent millions of deaths a year.
And since child survival is a major determinant of a countrys
prosperity, immunization is also a key to economic development and
poverty reduction. But vaccine-preventable diseases still claim
three million lives every year, and cause immeasurable suffering
to children, families, and communitiessimply because all infants
do not receive the vaccines that are available today.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization
(GAVI) is seeking to correct three wrongs: that every year, 30 million
children are still not receiving any vaccinations; that as new life-saving
vaccines are developed, only children in the richer countries are
receiving them; and that current market forces dont encourage
the development of vaccines against diseases most prevalent in poorer
countriesincluding pneumonia, diarrhoea, HIV/AIDS, malaria
Money alone wont get the job done, but it also
cant be done without money. So the GAVI partners designed
the Vaccine Fund, a financial mechanism
that swiftly channels resources directly to countries, based on
the policies and recommendations developed by the GAVI Board. Approximately
98% of Global Fund resources go directly to countries.
The GAVI partners have initially focused their efforts
on three major areas:
1) Moving resources from the Vaccine Fund to make
a difference on the ground in countries;
2) augmenting the generous US$750 million five-year
commitment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the Vaccine Fund; and
3) working with the vaccine industry to modernize
the way vaccines are purchased for children in the worlds
Over the past year, the partners in the Alliance have:
- Introduced a brand new idea in international
development: outcome-based grants. Where governments are given
responsibility to decide how money is used, but if they dont
show results, the funding stops.
- Received and processed proposals from 38 of the
74 countries that have per capita incomes below $1000, making
them eligible for Global Fund support. More than half of the proposals
- Committed US$300 million to 21 developing country
government health programs over five yearsto help them pay
for new and under-used vaccines and/or to improve their countries
current immunization services.
If the countries reach the targets they have set,
these financial commitments translate into a 30% increase in basic
immunization coverage in these countries. Over 90% of the children
will receive one or more newer vaccines; and approximately half
a million lives will be saved annually.
- Made the Vaccine Fund truly international: Norway,
the United Kingdom, the United States and The Netherlands have
all come on board to support the Vaccine Fund, pushing its total
commitments to above $1 billion. More countries are expected to
contribute to the Vaccine Fund in the next few months; contributions
from corporations and foundations will also be aggressively pursued.
- Developed a new vaccine procurement system that
gives manufacturers long-term purchasing commitments, allowing
them to respond to the needs of the poorest people. In fact, the
prices for the most in-demand vaccine formulations have been drastically
reduced through this process.
- Created a viable market in poor countries for sophisticated
vaccines that combine new and old antigens, such as hepatitis
B combined with DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), a market
that vaccine manufacturers are now striving to fulfill.
- Agreed to increase resources to bring to market
three vaccines in late stages of development, so-called orphan
vaccines, against diseases that together cause approximately two
million child deaths each year. Without a concerted effort, the
vaccinesagainst viral diarrhoea, pneumonia, and meningitiswould
not be available in developing countries for many years.
This year, the partners of GAVI will build upon the
initial accomplishments described above. New, simple ways to measure
health gains will be introduced. Vaccines and financial support
will be delivered to governments, and partners will provide the
technical support necessary to ensure successful implementation
of programs. Specific strategies to accelerate the introduction
of orphan vaccines will be worked out. And, by next
year, children and communities will enjoy better health and prosperity.
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