Funding aligned with Canadian PM Harper’s initiative to improve maternal, newborn and child health
Geneva, 18 June 2014 – The GAVI Alliance has received a C$ 20 million contribution from the Canadian government to support the Alliance’s immunisation supply chain strategy that will help provide more children in the world’s poorest countries with access to life saving vaccines. The supply chain strategy was approved this week by the GAVI Alliance Board.
The funding is part of Canada’s global leadership around maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) – the country’s top development priority – with the C$ 20 million contribution (about US$ 18.5 million) budgeted through its groundbreaking Muskoka Initiative launched in 2010.
The contribution will help improve the storage, handling and stock management of vaccines funded by the GAVI Alliance, including:
- increasing the availability of vaccines
- building human resource capacity to manage immunisation supply chains
- increasing the availability and use of data on vaccine stocks
“By working together, eliminating preventable deaths among women, newborns and children is within arm’s reach," said Christian Paradis, Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie. “This initiative will help ensure that more children in the world’s poorest countries have access to lifesaving vaccines by strengthening the immunisation supply chains.”
Cold chain challenge
The GAVI Alliance is on track to immunise 243 million children between 2011-2015 and is seeking to immunise an additional 300 million children between 2016-2020, reaching the one in five under age 5 who are not immunised, often because they live in remote and difficult to reach areas. This lack of equity results in 1.5 million vaccine-preventable deaths each year. Independent reports have cited poor supply chains as among the most difficult obstacles to overcome this issue.
For example, vaccines need to be kept at cool temperatures to remain effective, a significant challenge in many developing countries that have a weak infrastructure. The Canadian investment will support the implementation of innovative approaches and technologies to help address this issue.
The GAVI Alliance has focused strongly on strengthening immunisation supply chains, partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF and WHO to develop an overall strategy that encourages country investment in cold chain equipment, personnel and their preparation, data management and health system strengthening. GAVI also is drawing on private sector innovation, such as solar-powered refrigerators, barcode systems to track vaccines and best practice in service delivery.
“We are very grateful to the Canadian government for its new commitment,” said GAVI Alliance CEO Dr. Seth Berkley. “Many children do not have access to vaccines because of outdated and inefficient supply chains. But Canada’s continued support paves the way for the GAVI Alliance to work with its partners to help countries strengthen their systems and ensure children get the vaccines they need no matter where they live.”
Canada extends its leadership
Last month in Toronto, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper convened a global summit to ensure that MNCH remains a global priority after the 2015 deadline for the UN Millennium Development Goals. The summit built on the Muskoka Initiative spearheaded by Harper at the G8 meeting in 2010 to help save the lives of 1.3 million children and 64,000 mothers.
At the Toronto summit, Harper cited immunisation, health system strengthening, data quality and nutrition as vital to success and called on countries to invest politically and financially in these areas. The new Canadian funding for GAVI is a bridge between the Muskoka Initiative and the Toronto summit, immediately addressing three of the priorities.
Overall, Canada has invested about C$520 million in the GAVI Alliance since 2002 (about US$ 480 million). This includes support for public-private partnerships, with an investment in GAVI’s Advance Market Commitment, which has worked with pharmaceutical suppliers and government donors like Canada to reduce the price of the pneumococcal vaccine by 95%.
“With the GAVI Alliance and other partners, Canada will continue to save lives and improve the health of mothers and children in the developing world,” said Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose.