GAVI celebrates 10th anniversary, welcomes new Decade of Vaccines

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Statement by GAVI Alliance CEO Julian Lob-Levyt on the occasion of GAVI's 10th Anniversary

10th Anniversary

GAVI's first 10 years have helped avert five million future deaths with GAVI-funded vaccines reaching more than 250 million children in the poorest parts of the world.
Source: World Health Organization projection.

Davos, 29 January 2010 - Today, GAVI celebrates 10 years of success. As we build on that success, Bill & Melinda Gates' call for a "decade of vaccines" represents the second time that the Gates Foundation is playing a transformational role in the delivery of life-saving vaccines to the world's poorest countries.

In 2000, a US$ 750 million donation from the Foundation launched the GAVI Alliance at the World Economic Forum and paved the way for Alliance members to revitalise immunisation rates in developing countries.

Enormous commitment

Now, the Foundation's enormous commitment of US$10 billion over the next 10 years to help research, develop and deliver vaccines to the world's poorest countries sets a new precedent in global heath.

And just at the right time. We stand on the threshold of a new decade with very exciting prospects. For the first time in history, we have the opportunity to deliver new life-saving vaccines against the two biggest childhood killers in the world: pneumonia and diarrhoea.

We need look no further than GAVI's first 10 years for living proof that immunisation is one of the most cost-effective ways to save children's lives.

Julian Lob-Levyt, CEO, GAVI Alliance

The Foundation's announcement is a challenge to other donors to sustain and expand their support so we can tackle these killers.

Living proof

As Bill and Melinda emphasised, we need look no further than GAVI's first 10 years for living proof that immunisation is one of the most cost-effective ways to save children's lives.

When the Alliance was set-up, immunisation rates in low-income countries were in decline and there was slow progress in introducing new vaccines against hepatitis B and yellow fever.  By drawing on the individual strengths of the Alliance's partners, GAVI support has pushed immunisation rates in developing countries to an unprecedented 80 percent average; and previously underused vaccines against Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) and Hepatitis B have been introduced widely in the poorest countries in the world.

Since 2000, GAVI support has reached more than 250 million children and, critically, saved five million lives.

Revolution in development aid

In the process, the Alliance has pioneered a revolution in development aid. The sheer scale of the funds raised by groundbreaking financial instruments like the IFFIm (US$ 2.3 billion generated in just three years) encourages developing countries to invest in long-term immunisation programmes.  Likewise, manufacturers see the value in producing new vaccines for a guaranteed market.

Continued generosity of donors

Despite these achievements, there is the sober reminder that nearly 2.4 million children continue to die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.

GAVI, aged 10, has the expertise to play a key role in the forthcoming "Decade of Vaccines." However, the Alliance's plans to protect the lives of some 11 million children by rolling out vaccines against pneumococcal disease and rotavirus in 42 and 44 countries respectively, hinges on the continued generosity of donors, both public and private.

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