Geneva, 21 June 2022 – Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance today launched the Zero-Dose Immunization Programme (ZIP), a new innovative initiative that will provide two consortia of partners with up to US$ 100 million to identify and reach zero-dose children living in displaced communities and fragile and conflict settings. Zero-dose children are those that have not received a single shot of a routine vaccine.
International Rescue Committee (IRC) and World Vision (VW) have been chosen to lead the initiative in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel regions respectively, across 11 countries. As of 2020, there were over 4 million zero-dose children living across the targeted countries.
ZIP, which falls under Gavi’s new US$ 500 million Equity Accelerator Fund will commence with a 3-month inception phase during which zero-dose children will be identified alongside the unique barriers, including gender-related barriers, preventing access to immunisation. Children living in areas outside government reach, as well as mobile populations and refugees who move across borders will be prioritised in the outreach. At the end of the inception phase, detailed workplans will be agreed as well as relevant targets, with the overall goal of addressing the identified barriers and reaching as many zero-dose children as possible and increasing full immunisation. Governments will play a central role in the inception and implementation phases and will be involved in decision-making processes.
Both implementing partners were selected following a competitive process including an objective review by Gavi’s Independent Review Committee (IRC). The partners were chosen for their extensive experience in conflict areas and strong footprint in remote areas. They will work closely with governments and local organisations throughout the project, which is set to conclude in December 2025.
“Lower-income countries have made remarkable progress in immunisation over the last two decades but too many children, particularly those in hard-to-reach areas and fragile and conflict settings, are still missing out on life-saving vaccines. We have an opportunity now to build on the progress so far, and reach “zero-dose” children with vaccines as well as other essential health services,” said Anuradha Gupta, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. "There is a reason these communities are consistently missed and therefore to achieve our goal we need innovative approaches, dedicated focus and resourcing, and new partnerships to address their unique needs and realities. Today’s ZIP launch is an exciting paradigm shift in how we can reach those left furthest behind.”
International Rescue Committee – working closely with Acasus, Flowminder, IOM, ThinkPlace and various local organisations and CSOs – will focus their efforts in Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. World Vision – working alongside the African Christian Health Association Platform, Food for the Hungry, CORE Group and local partners will take the lead in Chad, Niger, Nigeria, CAR, Cameroon, Mali and Burkina Faso.
"With half of all under-five deaths occurring in zero-dose children, it is time for new and innovative partnerships to close the immunisation gap. The IRC is proud to be joining forces with Gavi on this urgent issue at this vital time. Traditional approaches have left more than 12 million children without routine vaccination services, and we are determined to show that new partnerships with diverse actors can deliver results and save children's lives,“ said David Miliband, President & CEO of the International Rescue Committee.
“Immunization has prevented the deaths of millions of children, yet vaccine access remains inequitable and out of reach for so many children living in fragile contexts and conflict zones. World Vision is thrilled to partner with Gavi to reach the most vulnerable, zero-dose children, in the Sahel with access to life-saving childhood vaccines. We are committed to partnership – at every level – as it will be critical to address the systemic challenges and barriers limiting access to vaccines,” said Margaret Schuler, Senior Vice President, International Programs for World Vision US.
Gavi’s Equity Accelerator Fund is dedicated to reducing the zero-dose burden in lower-income countries by investing in targeted initiatives. The remaining US $ 400 million out of the total US$ 500 million will go directly to Gavi-supported countries to identify where zero-dose children are and to sustainably reach them with a full range of vaccines.
Building on two decades of remarkable progress in expanding the reach of immunisation – which has seen the number of children dying from vaccine-preventable diseases in lower-income countries drop by 70% – Gavi’s latest five-year strategy seeks to push even further. During the period 2021-25, the Alliance and its partners will dedicate focus to reaching zero-dose children and missed communities, leveraging the power of innovation and new partnerships to reduce the number of zero-dose children globally by 25% in 2021–2025.
The partnership with IRC and World Vision is emblematic of this transformative shift in the way the Alliance operates, for the first time in Gavi’s history bringing on board non-governmental organisations as core implementing partners.
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