Global health leaders hail immunisation as shortest path to healthy lives

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Gavi Mid-Term Review closes with commitments to accelerate immunisation programmes in the poorest countries to reach more children with lifesaving vaccines.

MTR HE Reem Al Hashimy

H.E. Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, United Arab Emirates, welcomes attendees to the Mid-Term Review. Credit: Gavi/2018/Oscar Seykens.

Abu Dhabi, 12 December 2018 – More than 300 leaders of the global health community, including representatives from governments, civil society and the private sector, came together for the Gavi Mid-Term Review this week in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The high-level conference celebrated the 700 million children immunised and 10 million lives saved in the world’s poorest countries thanks to Gavi support since 2000.

Partners took stock of progress, such as Gavi’s market shaping work ensuring sustainable, affordable supply of vaccines for the poorest countries as well as the fact that every country supported by Gavi is now co-financing its own vaccines – governments’ investment in immunisation increased by 10% in 2017 alone. They also underlined the challenges faced in meeting all of the goals set during Gavi’s replenishment in Berlin in 2015.

“An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” said HE Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation. “Effective and thorough immunisation is one of the most straightforward ways to protecting children. Preventing disease becomes the essence of wisdom. Our partnership with Gavi and collective mobilisation during these two days signal our commitment to empower the next generation.”

While Gavi is on track to meet its commitments, it still faces a number of challenges including the difficulty of reaching underimmunised children in isolated rural communities, urban slums and conflict settings.  It will also need to help countries deal with a growing number of disease outbreaks coupled with the looming challenges of climate change, population growth and urbanization, as well as the fact that more and more of the world’s poorest people will be living in middle-income countries not supported by Gavi.

“We still have a long way to go,” said Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Gavi Board Chair. “Despite improvements in vaccine coverage, it is not accelerating as fast as we would like and this is particularly the case in fragile countries. In order to further its mission and to reach the children who are still missing out on basic vaccines, this week we heard from participants that the Alliance needs to keep on learning from its experiences and continue to adapt. Success will require exploring more innovative and tailored approaches with countries while selectively forging new partnerships with the private sector.”

“By reaching more than 65 million children annually in Gavi-supported countries, vaccination is the shortest path to healthy lives,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “Vaccines don’t deliver themselves.  Expanding health systems to deliver immunisation in low coverage areas builds the base of the primary health system. This is a key contributor to the third Sustainable Development Goal.” Immunisation connects the vast majority of families with the primary health system up to five times in the first year of a child’s life – more than any other health intervention. It ranks among the most equitable interventions, disproportionately benefiting the most marginalised populations and is equally distributed to boys and girls.

New and expanded partnerships

During the mid-term review, Gavi announced a series of new innovative partnerships with the private sector and governments to further strengthen immunisation in developing countries.

  • The German Federal Ministry of Development and Cooperation through the German development bank KfW will explore the application of blockchain technology to Gavi’s cash support and supply chain management systems.
  • Mastercard will leverage its expertise and technology, enabling ministries of health and authorised health workers to provide a card with a digital immunisation record to each participating child’s caregiver. The program aims to strengthen the efficiency and reach of health services in developing countries where children are most at risk of missing out on immunisation.
  • Parsyl Inc will help to boost vaccine supply chains in Uganda and Senegal. The partnership will use Parsyl’s advanced supply chain data platform to support Senegal and Uganda to track and monitor cold chain conditions while vaccines are being distributed within countries.
  • The Uganda Ministry of Health, UPS and Freight in Time Ltd (FIT) will implement an 18 month pilot project using a customised mobile app and a wireless temperature monitoring system to help address supply chain challenges in three Ugandan districts which have the highest number of unimmunised children in the country.
  • Unilever through Lifebuoy, its leading health soap brand, will expand its support to further scale up its ‘Safal Shuruaat’ programme. This India-based initiative, launched in 2018, promotes handwashing with soap and immunisation – two of the most cost-effective child survival interventions – and aims to improve the health of young children by helping to prevent illnesses which are often associated with premature death. The partnership with Gavi contributes to two major public health priorities of the Government of India: Mission Indradhanush and Swachh Bharat. Unilever’s increased financial contribution will be matched by the Government of the Netherlands as part of the Gavi Matching Fund mechanism.
  • Zenysis Technologies - This new strategic partnership agreement will jointly invest to provide countries with access the company’s software platform, analytical training and support IT skills development. Countries will use the platform’s interoperability capabilities to integrate data from their fragmented information systems and help decision makers see where their country’s immunisation programmes are leaving children behind. The project also has the backing of one of Zenysis’ investors, internet services giant Tencent Holdings, Asia’s largest company.

The International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) and the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB), a development partner of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, announced plans to issue an Islamic-compliant financial instrument, or Sukuk, aimed at accelerating funding for immunisation efforts to save children’s lives in the world’s poorest countries.

New funding commitments

The Republic of Korea announced US$ 15 million in new funding that will be delivered from 2019-2021 and will be funded through Korea’s Global Disease Eradication Fund.

The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (Kuwait Fund) formally approved a grant of US$ 1 million to accelerate the availability of funding for immunisation programmes supported by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Lastly, Mohamed Al Ansari, Chairman and Managing Director of Al Ansari Exchange, a leading exchange company in the UAE announced a US$ 1 million pledge to support life-saving vaccines and immunisation in the poorest countries of the world.

The Gavi Mid-Term review was also an opportunity to celebrate global figures whose dedication to the Vaccine Alliance’s mission has played a key role in helping Gavi and its partners to protect hundreds of millions of children across the world. Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, Founder of Serum Institute of India (SII) and Chairman of Poonawalla Group, was given the first ever Vaccine Hero award by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

 

Media contacts

Frédérique Tissandier

Frédérique Tissandier
Gavi
+41 79 300 8253
+41 22 909 2968

Iryna Mazur

Iryna Mazur
Gavi

+41 22 909 2920

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