Last week Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, confirmed that the Prime Minister will open the GAVI conference which the UK will host in London in June. The pledging conference is titled ‘Saving children’s lives’ and will seek to mobilise GAVI partners and donors to raise US$ 3.7 billion to scale up immunisation programmes between 2011 and 2015.
Fully funding the GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) Alliance would save the lives of 4 million children by 2015. In addition, fully financing GAVI would drive us significantly closer to achieving Millennium Development Goal 4, which is to reduce under-five mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2015. It would also bring the world closer to achieving the G8 leaders’ 2010 Muskoka Initiative to improve maternal, new born and child health.
Nearly 2 million children die from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccination every year, in particular from pneumonia and diarrhoea, which cause 4 out of every 10 childhood deaths. GAVI works to save children’s lives by increasing access to immunisation in developing countries where the majority of these childhood deaths occur.
The GAVI Alliance was created in 2000 at a time when immunisation rates were levelling off and even declining in some areas. GAVI supports the introduction of a number of different vaccines including against Hib, hepatitis B, yellow fever, the measles and meningitis. In addition, countries can apply for support for pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines, the two main killers of children under five worldwide.
The WHO estimates that GAVI’s efforts have prevented 5.4 million premature deaths since it was first established. Since its creation, the number of children dying before their fifth birthday fell below 9 million in 2008 for the first time on record.
GAVI works with developing and donor countries and partners with organisations such as WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank and many more to save children’s lives and protect people’s health and currently fund programmes in 72 of the world’s poorest countries. GAVI provides us with an exciting opportunity to make more progress, faster if we seize the opportunity and fund the roll-out of vaccines.
Immunisation image courtesy of: hdptcar