Mary Robinson, Chair of the GAVI Alliance Board, welcomes the new commitment, which will help save the lives of 4.2 million children

New York City, 6 October 2010 - With a new pledge of A$ 60 million (US$ 58 million) over three years, the Government of Australia doubled its previous commitment to the GAVI Alliance on Wednesday and set the pace for other donors at a meeting in New York.

The meeting of GAVI Alliance partners is part of a process to raise funds for GAVI's 2010-2015 programme. If fully funded, GAVI will help developing countries immunise an additional 240 million children and prevent some 4.2 million deaths.

"This increase in Australia's commitment to support GAVI's life-saving work is wonderful news," said Mary Robinson, Chair of the GAVI Alliance Board. "Immunisation is one of the most powerful development interventions that we have," she said.

Australian officials at the meeting said they were delighted to be strengthening their partnership with GAVI because it provides the world's poorest countries access to some of the same life-saving vaccines that rich countries have.

Australia's new commitment adds to an existing 20-year commitment for A$ 250 million (US$ 244 million) to the Health Systems Funding Platform, which GAVI has established with other partners.

GAVI's work in the past ten years has seen the immunisation of more than 257 million children and the prevention of 5.4 million premature deaths. On Tuesday, the eve of the one-day meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon endorsed GAVI's critical role in improving the lives of poor women and children.

"Immunisation - and all the work of the GAVI Alliance - is a key part of our strategy," he said, referring to the new Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health.

In calculating donor commitments to the G8 Muskoka Initiative, the G8 considers that 100 percent of every dollar contributed to GAVI reaches mothers and children in the developing world.

GAVI has already raised some US$ 2.7 billion for its ambitious 2010-2015 programme through ground-breaking financing methods, such as the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) but needs an additional US$ 4.3 billion.

The programme includes the introduction of new vaccines to tackle major causes of the world's two biggest childhood killers, pneumonia and diarrhoea -- the leading causes of child mortality, which together account for nearly 40% of all child deaths.

The programme will also ensure the sustainability of the five-in-one pentavalent vaccine introduced by GAVI to increase basic coverage against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP), while also protecting children against Hepatitis B and Hib.

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