Geneva, 26 June 2008 - A new blow against the major childhood killer pneumococcal disease was delivered yesterday when the GAVI Alliance Board confirmed its intent to provide US$1.3 billion for the purchase of pneumococcal vaccines for children in the developing world.
The leading cause of death among children under five, pneumococcal disease causes pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. It kills over 700,000 children each year, with 90% of these deaths occurring in developing nations. Although a pneumococcal vaccine currently exists, its formulation is not optimal against the major strains found in poor countries. Introducing a potentially more effective vaccine at an affordable price normally takes up to 15 years or more.
The new GAVI funding will go towards a pilot initiative called the Advance Market Commitment (AMC), a market-driven approach in which donors make an advance financial commitment in order to prompt faster development and delivery of suitable vaccines at affordable prices.
In February 2007, the governments of Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, and Russia, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched a pilot AMC against pneumococcal with a collective US$1.5 billion commitment. Through the AMC, experts estimate that a suitable vaccine can be rolled out in sufficient quantities as early as 2010 and can save an estimated 7 million lives by 2030.
"The AMC represents another innovative financing mechanism to speed up the development and delivery of life-saving vaccines to the world's poorest children," said Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary of the GAVI Alliance. "It is very exciting news that GAVI's partners have taken one more step towards realizing this objective."
GAVI, an alliance of the world's top global health agencies, governments and private partners, also developed and launched the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) in 2006. The facility has raised more than US$1.2 billion from private bond markets to provide long-term funds for health and immunisation programmes.
The Boards' endorsement builds on an overall strategy for the introduction of pneumococcal vaccine, which was initially approved in 2006.