Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf emphasises the importance of immunisation and health system strengthening in a prerecorded video address at the concert.
Credit: Gavi/2014/Pascal Barollier.
New York, 27 September 2014 - Child immunisation was a highlight of the annual Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, which attracted 50,000 people and provided unprecedented visibility for the work of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
Now in its third year, the festival – organised by the Global Poverty Project (GPP) – focused on ensuring that all youth can survive and thrive.
“By 2020, we can work with countries to help save 5 to 6 million additional lives by vaccinating 300 million children living in poor countries,” said Gavi CEO Dr Seth Berkley. “We don’t do this alone. We work with UNICEF, WHO, the World Bank, private companies, civil society. And now we count on you, the tens of thousands of people gathered in Central Park and the many more thousands who took online action during this campaign to continue spreading the word: Let’s reach every child and rid the world of vaccine-preventable diseases.”
The concert was headlined by rap superstar Jay-Z, along with Carrie Underwood, Gwen Stefani’s band No Doubt with surprise appearances by Beyonce and Sting. The concert was broadcast by NBC, MSNBC and radio network ClearChannel.
The event was driven by a call to action for child immunisation, sanitation and education, each of which was emphasised during the concert by celebrities and policy advocates. Before the show, GPP’s so-called “Global Citizen” activists won tickets by taking grassroots-type actions, including signing an online petition calling on world leaders to support a full US $7.5 billion replenishment of Gavi for 2016 to 2020.
Gavi’s replenishment received an immediate boost at the concert, as Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced that Norway will commit US $215 million to Gavi for 2015. She added that Norway will continue to pledge at least this amount to Gavi in years to come, provided that other countries and donors also significantly increase their support for Gavi.
“By ensuring children get the necessary vaccines, we will be able to greatly reduce child deaths,” Solberg underscored during the concert. “The best way to reach children with vaccines in some of the world’s most remote, vulnerable, and marginalised communities is through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. That’s why Norway has been a major funder of Gavi since 2001, and is committed to ensuring that children everywhere have access to vaccines.”
Norway is one of Gavi’s original six donors and to date has provided US $1.33 billion to Gavi in direct funding.
Immunisation has been key to our success. In partnership with Gavi, the children of Liberia can get the best and latest vaccines.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is focused on her country’s response to the Ebola crisis, addressed the concert in a prerecorded video message. In it, she emphasised the importance of immunisation and health system strengthening, both in her country and in Africa as a whole.
“Liberia is one of the very few countries that has reduced childhood mortality by two-thirds since 1990,” said President Johnson Sirleaf. “Immunisation has been key to our success. In partnership with Gavi, the children of Liberia can get the best and latest vaccines.”
The festival also featured a powerful call to action for Gavi by two grandchildren of Nelson Mandela, the first chair of Gavi. Kweku and Ndaba Mandela urged attendees to support child vaccination through Gavi, noting that child survival was hugely important to their grandfather.
“Global partnerships are essential,” said Rwanda President Paul Kagame, flanked by the Mandelas. “The work of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance should continue and even expand. Let’s keep working together, in solidarity to change the world.”