The introduction of vaccines against the two biggest killers of children, pneumonia and diarrhoea, can prevent more than four million deaths by 2015 but significant funding is urgently needed, donors to the Vaccine Alliance were told on 26 March 2010 in The Hague.
“Unless these vaccines are introduced soon, developing countries like mine will not reach Millennium Development Goal 4, to reduce child mortality by two-thirds,” Mali’s Minister of Health, the Right Honorable Oumar Ibrahima Touré told a meeting of Gavi’s donors and potential donors.
If it is able to secure US$ 2.6 billion in additional funding, Gavi projected it could save 4.2 million lives in developing countries, preventing deaths from diseases such as hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and Haemophilus influenzae type b, but mainly from pneumonia and diarrhoea which kill up to 1.5 million children every year in developing countries.
Graça Machel, a former chair of the Gavi board, told the High-Level Meeting on Financing Country Demand that it was unconscionable to leave millions of children at risk of disease and death, while infants in rich nations receive life-saving vaccines.
You have a choice to make, and the direction you choose today -- collectively -- will set the course and speed for the next five years.
Former Gavi Board Chair Mary Robinson
“We have the chance to make the world a fairer place and give children of Africa, Asia and Latin America the chance to a healthy life and contribute to the future prosperity of their communities and countries,” she said.
”I know that you all agree with me. This is a job worth doing. It is a mission worth completing. How can we tell our children that we could have done it but that we failed to do it?” she asked.
Value for money
Donors noted the excellent value for money that Gavi offers, a point all the more relevant in time of constrained budgets.
“When resources are constrained, we want to focus on where the need is greatest and Gavi does that. We know that our money goes where it is needed most,” said a participant.
Standing at a crossroads
Addressing the meeting by video, Gavi’s Board Chair Mary Robinson told donors: “With just five years to go before we reach the deadline for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, think of yourselves as standing at a busy crossroad. You have a choice to make and the direction you choose today -- collectively -- will set the course and speed for the next five years.”
Several donors expressed appreciation that Gavi’s vaccine market shaping activities were bringing new suppliers from the developing world into the market and driving vaccine prices down.
Donors also concurred that solid evidence of the impact and effectiveness of immunisation provided a compelling case for further investment in Gavi.
Smart and right
"It is urgent for current donors to scale up if we want to increase Gavi’s ability to deliver on the MDGs,” said Norwegian Member of Parliament Dagfinn Høybraten, a longtime supporter of Gavi.
“The beautiful thing is that Gavi is both smart and right and it is hard not to act on that basis. A failure to act in this situation will have serious consequences.”
The meeting participants agreed to reconvene in the autumn and, in the meantime, to work on promoting Gavi's agenda and needs and considering means to support it.
Global immunisation rates
Global immunisation rates, which slowed during the 1990s, have been climbing again since the establishment of Gavi in 2000. About 80 percent of children in the world’s poorest countries are now reached with routine vaccination – a record of 106 million in 2008.