Geneva, 19 May 2009 -Despite the financial crisis, more and more of the world's poorest countries are proving their commitment to immunisation by contributing towards the cost of life-saving vaccines purchased through the GAVI Alliance.
Twenty-seven countries now help finance the purchase of vaccines against common but life-threatening diseases, such as rotavirus, Hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type b, tetanus and pertussis - four times as many countries than in 2007. In total, these co-payments amounted to more than US$ 17 million in 2008, or 15% of the respective cost to GAVI.
Benin: 19 May
Bolivia: 22 May
Burundi: 19 May
Cameroon: 19 May
Ghana: 20 May
Liberia: 20 May
Madagascar: 19 May
Malawi: 20 May
Rwanda: 20 May
Solomon Islands: 21 May
Tanzania: 20 May
Yemen: 21 May
Zambia: 20 May
Through its unique co-financing policy, GAVI encourages recipient governments to contribute between 10 and 30 US cents per dose, depending on their ability to pay.
At a series of special award ceremonies taking place at this week's World Health Assembly in Geneva, the Alliance will recognise thirteen developing country governments for their outstanding commitment to co-financing.
"We are pleased and proud to recognise these countries for their extraordinary commitment to immunisation," said Dr Julian Lob-Levyt, GAVI Alliance CEO.
"They have demonstrated an impressive level of ownership which shows that GAVI's unique co-financing scheme is proving to be a successful model for development aid. Already a third of all GAVI's recipient countries co-finance now and we expect this number to continue to increase."
One of the countries that will be recognised is Zambia, which received a similar award in 2007.
"Our government is very committed to child survival and particularly wants to ensure that the immunisation programme is properly funded, maintained and sustained," said Dr Victor Mukonka, the Director of Public Health and Research at the Ministry of Health in Lusaka.
"These days we can pay for over 25 percent of the costs of the vaccines we receive. We are hoping to eventually fully fund the immunisation of our children," he explained.
"We have worked extremely hard to convince the cabinet to invest in children and to prevent diseases rather than wait until the children are sick. In Zambia, everybody values vaccination as a cost-effective intervention".
GAVI's co-financing policy aims to strengthen country ownership and to help countries work towards financial sustainability for their immunisation programmes.
Eventually all countries will be required to co-finance GAVI-supported vaccines according to their ability to pay and the number of different vaccines deployed.