“La Caixa”, its customers and employees provide support to immunise children against pneumonia in Latin America

la Caixa event 4 Oct 2011 800 wide

(left to right) Her Royal Highness The Infanta Cristina of Spain; Jaime Lanaspa, Executive Director, "la Caixa"; Dagfinn Høybråten, Chair of the GAVI Alliance board; Joe Cerrell, Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Europe. Source: "la Caixa"/2011.

Barcelona, Spain, 4 October 2011– The GAVI Alliance today praised “la Caixa” Foundation’s leadership and generosity in donating € 4 million (US$ 5.7 million) to GAVI’s new Matching Fund,  a public-private initiative designed to raise funds for GAVI’s immunisation programmes in poor countries.

The donation – plus additional funds collected from “la Caixa” bank’s customers and employees – is particularly impactful because it will be matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, bringing the total amount pledged to at least  € 8 million (US$ 11. 4 million) over two years.

The Matching Fund for Immunisation

The GAVI Matching Fund is a major new effort with the private sector to raise US$ 260 million for immunisation by the end of 2015. Under the programme, the Gates Foundation has pledged US$ 50 million to match contributions to GAVI from primarily private sector companies, their customers and employees. In addition, pledges to the Matching Fund by UK companies and their customers and employees are being matched by the £ 50 million pledge from the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

The “la Caixa” pledge – € 2 million in 2011 and € 2 million in 2012 -- specifically goes toward the purchase of pneumococcal vaccine for GAVI-supported countries in Latin America.  The donation was made official at a signing ceremony today in Barcelona.  Pneumonia is the number one infectious killer of children in the developing world: roughly 1.5 million children under age five die from pneumonia each year.  Funding from “la Caixa” will dramatically increase the number of children receiving pneumococcal vaccine in Latin America, and raise overall immunisation coverage in recipient countries.

“I am very pleased to be here at this historic opportunity for GAVI and the children it seeks to protect,” said Her Royal Highness The Infanta Cristina of Spain, who serves as Director of the International Cooperation Programme for the “la Caixa” Foundation. “When we learned about GAVI’s work and its extraordinary achievements, we had no doubt about becoming the first private European foundation to join in. We hope that “la Caixa” will serve as a model for many other private institutions to step up and join GAVI in this innovative public-private partnership to prevent childhood disease.”

Historic opportunity

“The GAVI Matching Fund represents an historic opportunity for private enterprises to work hand-in-hand with public institutions to save lives and improve health worldwide, and “la Caixa” is leading the way,” added Dagfinn Høybråten, board chair of the GAVI Alliance. “We are eager to continue our strong partnership with “la Caixa” and the Gates Foundation and are grateful for their strong commitment to children’s health. Their generous investments will help us fulfill our mission to save children’s lives and protect people’s health by increasing access to immunisation in developing countries.”

“La Caixa” Foundation, led by Executive Director Jaime Lanaspa, has worked closely with GAVI since 2008, previously donating € 11 million (US$ 14.8 million) for the purchase of pentavalent vaccine in Africa and helping to create the innovative Business Alliance for Child Vaccination, a group of Spanish businesses that have raised € 633,988 (US$ 855,000) for GAVI programmes. Over 140 companies have joined the Business Alliance so far, and it remains a leading corporate social responsibility initiative in Europe.  Funds from the Business Alliance will be further matched by the Matching Fund to maximise their impact for children. “La Caixa” employees also donated € 98,500 (US$ 133,000) to GAVI. 

“Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective health interventions ever developed,” said Joe Cerrell, director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Europe office. “It is critical to reach every child in need of immunization, and we need the help of the private sector.”

About “la Caixa” Foundation

For more than 100 years, “la Caixa” has been committed to people. Through its Welfare Projects, the institution returns to society a significant part of the profits it makes from its financial operations.

In the current economic situation, the importance of promoting social, educational, cultural and environmental programmes that help alleviate people's essential needs has become even more relevant than ever.

Through its International Cooperation programme, the institution contributes to eradicate extreme poverty in the most disadvantaged countries by supporting initiatives that improve the living conditions of the population. Among these, child vaccination and global health projects play a key part.

“La Caixa” is the leading private foundation in Spain in terms of budget and one of the most important foundations in the world.

Photo Opportunities

At 4:55pm (Barcelona time), event participants will be available for photo opportunities.  The location is at “la Caixa” Foundation’s offices at Avinguda Diagonal, 621, Barcelona, Spain 08028.

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