31 March 2021, Geneva – Today Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and Save the Children signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen vaccination efforts and health services to reach zero dose children in marginalised and hard-to-reach communities in some of the world’s countries with the least resources. The partnership will leverage Save the Children’s existing presence and expertise to implement immunisation and related programmes in Gavi-supported countries. This initiative will ensure, through the sharing of key learnings and best practices, that immunisation equity gaps are closed and as many lives as possible can be saved.
“Despite enormous progress over the past two decades ensuring children everywhere have access to life-saving immunisation, 20 million still miss out on basic vaccines every year,” said Gavi Deputy CEO Anuradha Gupta. “Our vision is to close the equity gap and leave no one behind with immunisation. We know a disproportionate number of children who are not receiving vaccines come from hard-to-reach areas including fragile and conflict settings. We are therefore delighted to partner with Save the Children whose worldwide network and deep expertise will enable us to reach them.”
“Many children who go without immunisation live in the toughest places to reach. Worldwide, 160 million children live in high-intensity conflict zones. While progress has been made, too many others still live in remote, marginalised communities with little or no healthcare,” said Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the children. “For 100 years, we’ve been finding new ways to help children who need us most, no matter where they’re growing up. This new partnership between Save the Children and Gavi will play a crucial role in helping to reach these children and their families. We will go where governments and other partners often cannot, focusing on innovative approaches to immunisation. We will join forces across the breadth of Save the Children's existing programmes. Together, we can close the immunisation gap.”
The agreement signed by the two organisations focuses on advancing immunisation in conflict-affected areas and fragile states to reach zero-dose children through the sharing of key learnings, best practices, and innovative approaches including using existing platforms to explore how immunisation activities could be added to the current on-going support on diagnosis and treatment of childhood pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, and malnutrition in communities with poor access to health facilities.
Specifically, the memorandum of understanding will identify and facilitate opportunities for joint advocacy related to strengthening health systems and immunisation targets prioritising fragile and conflict areas but also in other geographical settings with major immunisation gaps. Vaccine hesitancy will also be addressed through community-based education programmes, and the partnership will also contribute to advancing COVAX’ mission of global equitable access.
Despite two decades of progress in reducing the immunisation gap between lower- and higher-income countries, every year over 10 million children in lower-income countries receive no routine vaccinations, half of which live in fragile states – an issue which is only likely to worsen with the COVID-19 pandemic. Gavi has made reaching these communities its priority for its 2021-25 strategic period. The missed communities that the majority of these children live in also often lack other basic services such as education and clean water and suffer from deep gender disparities. Reaching these communities would provide benefits that extend far beyond immunisation alone.