Health equity

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Gavi has helped dramatically boost access to vaccines in developing countries

Still, nearly 19 million children do not receive a full course of the most basic vaccines

Credit: Gavi/2012/Sala Lewis

Credit: Gavi/2012/Sala Lewis.

Since 2000, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has helped dramatically improve access to life-saving vaccines and reduce the time lag between the availability of vaccines in rich and poor countries. With our support, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccines are now provided in all low-income countries – from only around 5% in 2000.1 

Children in developing countries now have greater access to vaccines than to almost any other health intervention, free of charge and through the national system, and boys and girls are reached at equal levels globally.2 But close to 19 million children still don’t have access to a full course of the most basic vaccines, and less than 5% get all 11 vaccines that WHO recommends for infants in all countries.

One in five of all children who die before the age of five lose their lives to vaccine-preventable diseases.

Poorest households

The children who miss out are often those in the poorest households and the most remote locations, and whose mothers have a low level of education. These children are also most likely to die before the age of five.

A child born in a low-income country is 11 times more likely to die before reaching the age of five compared to a child in a high-income country.3 

In the 2016–2020 period, Gavi aims to support countries to increase immunisation coverage everywhere and make it more equitable, to ensure all children are protected with the miracle of vaccines.

Life, survival, maximum development, access to health and access to health services are not just basic needs of children and adolescents, but fundamental human rights. 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 

Good health leads to development

Good health leads to social and economic development, enabling people to reach their full potential as active and productive members of society. It also encourages investment in human capital as investors often shun environments in which the labour force suffers a heavy disease burden.4 

Some of the world's leading experts on development economics have identified six health-related issues in their list of the top 10 most cost-effective ways to improve global welfare.5 

"Improving the health of the poor is an end in itself, a fundamental goal of economic development; but it is also a means to achieving the other development goals relating to poverty reduction," said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, former WHO Director-General and the first Chair of the Gavi Board.

1 The International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) VIMS database.

2 Boerma T. et al., Countdown 2008 Equity Analysis Group, Mind the gap: equity and trends in coverage of maternal, newborn, and child health services in 54 Countdown countries, The Lancet, 2008; 371: 1259–67. Hilber AM, McKenzie O, Gari S et al. (2010). Gender and Immunisation. Summary Report, p. 9. Geneva: Swiss Centre for International Health, Swiss TPH.

3 Levels & Trends in Child Mortality Report 2015. New York, UNICEF, World Health Organization, World Bank, UN DESA. Available at:

4 World Health Organization. Vaccine-preventable diseases: monitoring system. 2010 Global Summary.

5 Lawson S, Douglas DB. Health buys wealth. Goldman Sachs, Global Markets Institute. 2009 Dec 3 [cited 2010 Feb 1]

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