Kigali, 1 December 2010 - Recognising advances in the fight against HIV and AIDS and its impact on children in developing countries, the GAVI Alliance Board marked World AIDS Day by expressing solidarity with all those working to reduce mother-to-child transmission.
Infant vaccination can play a significant role in protecting HIV-infected children and adults from opportunistic bacterial infections including pneumococcal disease.
Meeting in Rwanda's capital Kigali, the GAVI Alliance Board confirmed its intention to roll out vaccines which tackle pneumonia in over 40 countries by 2015. These pneumococcal vaccines will help protect children from infection and reduce deaths of children born with HIV.
Rwanda is a good example of a country showing real leadership in public health and it is making major strides in reducing paediatric HIV infection.
Mary Robinson, Chair, GAVI Alliance Board
"All of us on the GAVI Board passionately believe in every child's right to health and in ensuring the best possible start in life," said Mary Robinson, Chair of the GAVI Alliance Board. "Rwanda is a good example of a country showing real leadership in public health and it is making major strides in reducing paediatric HIV infection."
Rwanda provides all pregnant women with free testing services, anti-retroviral drugs as needed and follow up services for children born to HIV-positive mothers. Rwanda's national immunisation programme, which is supported by GAVI, provides an entry point for these and other health services.
Figures from UNAIDS show infections of children born to HIV-positive mothers have dropped 24% in five years. The percentage of HIV-positive women who receive treatment to prevent the transmission of the virus to their child increased from 35% in 2007 to more than 50% in 2009.
"As global health advocates, we must strive to ensure that no child should be born with HIV. If we all work together, we can achieve zero paediatric infections by 2015," said Dr Richard Sezibera, Rwanda's Minister of Health, who represents developing countries on the Board.
In recent years, public-private partnerships like GAVI and The Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria have brought significant new resources to global health programmes and shown measurable results. Both alliances are working hard to increase funding from donor governments, the private sector and innovative finance mechanisms in order to save and protect more lives in the world's poorest countries.