Australia's crucial role in saving lives

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GAVI CEO Dr Seth Berkley delivers an in-depth speech outlining the crucial role Australian funding will play in saving lives in the developing world

Canberra, 21 March 2012 -- Speaking to a packed auditorium at the Australian National University in Canberra, GAVI CEO Dr Seth Berkley tonight delivered an in-depth speech outlining the crucial role Australian funding will play in saving lives in the developing world over the next decade.

Dr Berkley has been in Australia since Tuesday morning, meeting with leaders across the political spectrum, senior government officials and civil society organisations.

Dr Berkley has also conducted a number of high profile interviews with leading Australian media outlets including ABC TV’s News Breakfast and an appearance on Channel 10’s current affairs show. The Project which aims to engage 18-24 year-olds in international issues.

His arrival in Australia was heralded by an opinion piece.

Warm thanks to Australia

In his speech to the ANU, Dr Berkley delivered a warm thanks to Australia on behalf of GAVI, before outlining the extraordinary potential the organisation has to save lives over the next decade.

"Effective action can and must be taken to eliminate preventable diseases," Dr Berkley told the 100-strong audience.

Dr Berkley pointed to the experience the world had in stamping out smallpox. For an investment of US$ 100 million, millions of lives were saved and US$ 1.3 billion in cost was avoided, he explained.

250 million children

The GAVI CEO then shifted to the contemporary challenge of trying to immunise 250 million children, declaring pneumonia and diarrhoea as the two biggest priorities.

He explained that the unique financial structure of GAVI had allowed it to drive a 97 per cent reduction in the cost of the pneumococcal vaccine, driving strong outcomes in the world's 73 poorest nations.

"Immunisation is often the one entry point for delivering health outcomes to people in the developing world," Dr Berkley said.

Dr Berkley also touched on the need to drive access to HPV vaccine, created by Australian scientist, Professor Ian Frazer.

"We can immunise 150 million girls by 2030 and protect them," he said.

Dr Berkley travels to Melbourne tomorrow and then on to Sydney for further functions and meetings.

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