Ottawa, 8 February 2008 - A bold and far-sighted investment in child survival by the Canadian government over the last five years has helped save hundreds of thousands of lives and paved the way for further reductions in child mortality globally.
Canada's contribution of US$158 million to the GAVI Alliance between 2002 and 2007 greatly increased the public-private partnership's ability to accelerate and scale up programmes to ensure children in the world's poorest countries were immunised against a number of killer diseases.
"The science of vaccines has been available to the world for many years but with help from strong partners like the Government of Canada we have been able to secure the resources, the collective commitment and the momentum necessary to use this tool more widely and effectively for children," said Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary of the GAVI Alliance.
"Canada's bold and far-sighted commitment to our innovative development model came at a crucial time and has quite literally helped us save hundreds of thousands of lives," Dr Lob-Levyt said.
Dr Lob-Levyt visited Ottawa this week to meet with Minister of Finance, The Honourable Jim Flaherty, and the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation. He also spoke at an event hosted by the Interagency Coalition for AIDS and Development, the Council for International Co-operation and RESULTS Canada.
"I applaud the work that the GAVI Alliance does each and every day to save lives and make the world a better place for children in the poorest countries," said Minister Flaherty. "Last year in Rome I saw first-hand how GAVI's public-private sector approach can work when we announced our US$200 million contribution to the first Advance Market Commitment, to develop a pneumococcal vaccine. With this initiative we are taking a serious step towards stemming the spread of diseases that claim so many young lives in the developing world."
"Immunisation is a key part of Canada's work to improve maternal and child health in developing countries," said International Cooperation Minister Beverley J. Oda. "We have been very pleased to see the dramatic improvements in immunisation, especially in Africa."
The GAVI Alliance brings together major stakeholders in immunisation. It includes developing country and donor governments including Canada, development agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, NGOs, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
"The Government of Canada recognised early on that through an alliance of public and private partners, GAVI can find new and creative ways to improve the health of millions of children and adults in the poorest countries," Dr Lob-Levyt said. "We are grateful to the Government and people of Canada and look forward to working with them further to bring new and under used vaccines to children in the developing world."
A technical and financial commitment of US$200 million by Canada has been instrumental to the development of an Advance Market Commitment (AMC) pilot by GAVI, the World Bank and other donor governments. The AMC pilot is an innovative financing mechanism to stimulate supply and demand for pneumococcal vaccines which are expected to save 5.4 million additional lives in the world's poorest countries by 2030.
WHO data released at the beginning of 2008 show that GAVI support has helped avert 2.9 million future deaths [i] since it was set up in 2000 and has had a significant impact on bringing child mortality down below 10 million per year for the first time.
The WHO projections for 2000 to 2007 show GAVI support has:
The GAVI Alliance is working with UNICEF and others on the implementation of the Canadian Catalytic Initiative to Save a Million Lives and working with the International Health Partnership compact signatories. Canada endorsed the compact on September 5, 2007.
i More than 2.5 million child deaths from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles are estimated to be prevented annually as a result of immunisation. Hepatitis B vaccination prevents an estimated 600 000 hepatitis B-related deaths (from liver cirrhosis and cancer) annually that would have otherwise occurred in adulthood.
ii Not all children received all three vaccines. Therefore, the total figure of 176 million children is not the sum of children vaccinated against hepatitis B, Hib, and yellow fever.