Her Royal Highness the Infanta Doña Cristina and Health Minister Elena Salgado applaud achievements of global immunisation programs and Spain's continued commitment to these effort

Madrid, 10 July 2006 - Representatives of the GAVI Fund today gathered in Madrid to express gratitude to Spain for its leadership and its generous contribution to health and to global immunisation.

The GAVI Fund Board is taking place in Madrid this week and will gather Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, Graça Machel - Chair of the GAVI Fund Board, Mary Robinson, Michel Camdessus, Rita Süssmuth, and other eminent personalities. Today, GAVI Fund Board members are attending the welcome reception, opened by the Infanta Doña Cristina, Honorary Patron of the Madrid Fund Board meeting. Also participating is Spanish Health Minister, Mrs Elena Salgado.

It is estimated that through the GAVI immunisation programs, more than 1.7 million premature deaths have been prevented in the past five years. This is a noteworthy achievement giving GAVI and its partners confidence to redouble efforts to reach the 27 million children born every year who lack access to immunisation.

On Friday 7 July, the Spanish Council of Ministers announced its official ratification of the IFFIm, the International Finance Facility for Immunisation. "We are enormously grateful for Spain's support," said Dr Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary of GAVI. "With Spain's contribution we will be able to reach more children with life-saving vaccines and strengthen the health systems of impoverished countries and ultimately contribute to reaching the Millennium Development Goals. Together, we are building a better future for these children and countries as they work to break the cycle of poverty." The IFFIm has the capacity to save millions of additional lives that would otherwise be needlessly lost.

The IFFIm, a new financing instrument that will use pledges of future aid to leverage money from international capital markets for immediate use, will accelerate significantly the availability of new development funding for global health improvement and immunisation. The IFFIm is expected to provide US$4 billion of financing for immunisation over a period of ten years.

Together with France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa, Spain's contribution of €9,5 million a year (US$ 12 million) over 20 years to the IFFIm signals increasing global support behind efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals. The increased funding for GAVI will help strengthen health and immunisation services, promote access to underused vaccines and improve injection safety.

"Our ten year goal with our partners is simple: to save the lives an additional 5 million children by 2015" stated Mrs. Graça Machel, chair of the GAVI Fund Board.

But even with the increased amounts of funding devoted to immunisation the need remains pressing; "Of the more than 10 million children who die before reaching their fifth birthday every year, 2.5 million die from diseases that could be prevented with currently available or new vaccines," Dr Lob-Levyt said. "New sources of funding are crucial if we are to continue reducing the death toll. Innovative funding mechanisms such as the IFFIm are needed in order to cover the costs of developing and delivering new vaccines in the pipeline -- such as the vaccine against cervical cancer, or pneumonia, or diarrhea."

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