One year ago today, on 13 June 2011, the UK government held a summit that resulted in donors pledging to invest a combined total of $4.3 billion into the GAVI Alliance. This historical commitment to deliver vaccines that prevent some of the biggest childhood killers in the world will help to immunise 250 million children and save an estimated 3.9 million lives. The total amount pledged easily surpassed GAVI’s fundraising target of $3.7 billion, signalling an overwhelming display of faith in the power of vaccines. The UK Government more than doubled its contribution since the last pledging conference to £814 million over the period 2011-15.
Vaccines provide a proven, cost effective intervention for saving the lives of children everywhere, but particularly the world’s poorest children. In a time of financial austerity and with international aid spending coming under increased scrutiny, the GAVI Alliance is a clear example of good aid in action. Commitments made last year now mean that every two minutes, for the next five years, the UK taxpayer will save the life of a child from a vaccine preventable disease.
Over the past year we have seen an emboldened GAVI Alliance roll out more vaccines to those who need them most, including new vaccines against two of the leading child killers – pneumonia and diarrhoea. Pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines have respectively reached 17 and six GAVI-supported countries, and are expected to reach more than 40 countries by 2015. Ghana’s historic rollout of these two vaccines, the first African country to do so simultaneously, marked a new milestone.
Also in 2011, GAVI began offering support to developing countries for the introduction of new vaccines against HPV, the main cause of cervical cancer and a rising cause of female mortality in the developing world. This is a vital intervention for improving the health of women and girls across the world, leading the way for girls in developing countries to enjoy the same access to HPV vaccines as girls in developed nations.
GAVI is taking decisive steps to tackle rubella and measles. In November 2011, it decided to invest more than US$ 600 million to support measles second dose and combined measles-rubella vaccines. Measles remains one of the top killers of children in the world and has seen a resurgence in a number of countries of late, and rubella is a major cause of birth defects among new born babies that results in life-long disabilities.
So what’s next?
Protecting children from childhood killers is an issue that is close to the heart of RESULTS and its ACTION partners. This is why as advocates for ending poverty and improving global health, we are determined that every child should be vaccinated against some of the greatest threats they face. There is still much work to be done.
In 2010, almost one in five children – nearly 20 million – did not receive the most basic vaccinations. Reaching the unimmunised is essential if we are to meet the Millennium Development Goal of dramatically cutting the under-five mortality rate. Moving forward, RESULTS and its partners will be urging GAVI and donors to put addressing this inequity front and centre of immunisation strategies in this Decade of Vaccines.
You can read our blog following last year’s pledging conference here, which includes how RESULTS grassroots groups across the UK contributed to this achievement.
To find out more about those who still do not have access to vaccines and why, you can read the recent report ACTION partnered with Save the Children in producing: ‘Finding the final fifth – Inequalities in immunisation’
For more information on what’s been happening at GAVI’s board meeting in Washington DC this week, Dan Thomas Head of Media & Communication at GAVI, has written this blog: “The Great, the Good, and the Glamorous… and Ghana”
For more information on our work on vaccines, feel free to contact Mark Staniland on firstname.lastname@example.org