At the 2015 UNGA, the United Nations announced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - a set of universal goals and targets that offered a blueprint to achieving a more peaceful, inclusive and sustainable future for all by 2030.

Several years later, achievement of the SDGs is in doubt. The cumulative effects of population growth and displacement, climate and other environmental changes, increasing fragility, recurrent disease outbreaks, and insufficient investment in public goods, are threatening to reverse global development progress.

Due to rising inequality, the world’s most vulnerable people, especially women and girls, are disproportionately affected by these crises. It's a pivotal moment for the global community to reassess progress towards the SDGs and examine how best to capitalise on valuable opportunities to increase the ambition and commitment for a collective response that would accelerate their implementation at a much greater scale.


Gavi's advocacy and outreach at UNGA focused on four themes connected to the UNGA high level summits.

Climate action

Climate change impacts health and well-being, particularly amongst marginalised communities. It is expected to contribute to the spread and prevalence of diseases such as yellow fever, malaria and cholera. Vaccines and resilient health systems are effective tools for climate change adaptation. During UNGA, Gavi marked its commitment to climate action with a formal pledge to scale up our investment in proven interventions to help withstand shocks to health systems.

Universal Health Coverage

Gavi emphasised primary health care (PHC) as a cornerstone of a sustainable health system for universal health coverage (UHC) and the health-related SDGs. Immunisation provides a well-developed and far reaching platform for countries to strengthen PHC in support of UHC. Read more 

UHC High-level Meeting

Gavi CEO Seth Berkley and Gavi Board Chair Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala represented Gavi at the first UN high-level meeting focused on UHC. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-explained how countries can prioritise cost-effective and high impact interventions to achieve UHC. During the meeting, Gavi, Global Fund and the Global Financing Facility also called on countries and partners to prioritise the most underserved, vulnerable and marginalized, and reach them with quality, affordable and accessible high impact services.

Putting the ‘U’ in UHC

On the margins of UNGA, Gavi and the Global Fund brought together governments, civil society and the private sector to draw attention to the challenges of reaching invisible populations and to discuss the way forward to ensure equitable access to health services.

During the event, H.E. Mr. Faustin Archange Toudera, President of the Central African Republic, delivered a keynote address underscoring primary healthcare as a foundation to UHC in post-conflict situations and encouraging greater investment in capacity building.

Dr. Raj Panjabi, CEO of Last Mile Health, a Gavi partner organisation that supports developing country governments as they build national community health systems, stressed the “the moral case to put primary care in place.” He spoke about Last Mile Health’s extensive work with fragile and remote communities and noted that achieving universal health care will require investing “where the pain is worst.” That means beefing up the availability, density capacities of frontline health workers and introducing digital technologies that can help them plan and deliver more effective interventions at the local levels.  

Dr. Donald Kaberuka, Chair of The Global Fund’s Board of Directors, noted that achieving universal health coverage is not a technical problem, but “a problem of political economy” – that is, about hard decisions and trade-offs that every government must make about its priorities. “If we begin at this point,” he said, “it will help us solve the problems ahead of money. It’s not about lack of money or lack of health workers, it’s about the political economy and therefore it’s country specific.”

To his point, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Gavi’s Board Chair and the former Finance Minister of Nigeria, made an appeal to developing countries to do what they can to devote more of their own domestic budgets to health care.

Sustainable Development Goals

Immunisation is one of the best buys in global health and has a crucial role in achieving 14 of the 17 SDGs. As one of the most far-reaching health interventions, it closely reflects the ethos of the SDGs: “leaving no one behind”. Immunised communities are healthier and more prosperous as parents can work and avert both productivity loss and catastrophic payments for healthcare. Gavi’s collaborative approach is also a model for partnerships to accelerate SDGs in other areas and sectors.

Read more 

Financing for Development

Gavi is one of 12 agencies which developed the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives & Well-being for All (GAP) - a joint plan to better support countries over the next 10 years to accelerate progress towards the health-related Sustainable Development Goals. Within the GAP, Gavi co-led the accelerator on sustainable financing to help countries rapidly improve the generation, allocation, and use of funds for health. During UNGA, Gavi CEO Dr Seth Berkley participated in a high-level event to launch the initiative alongside other heads of agencies .


Building on the launch of Gavi’s Investment Opportunity for the 2021–2025 period, UNGAwas a critical moment to connect immunisation with the broader development agenda and reinforce the importance of vaccines to prevent disease, protect the next generation and ensure countries can prosper. To this end, Gavi hosted and took part in several events:

  • 22 Sep 2019: Accountability Breakfast, hosted by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH). Read more 
  • 22 Sep 2019: Launch of 2019 UHC Global Monitoring Report, co-hosted by UNICEF, World Bank, UNFPA and WHO.
  • 23 Sep 2019: Vaccine Hero Award
    Gavi recognised the Prime Minister of Bangladesh H.E. Sheikh Hasina for her political leadership in immunisation, both nationally and globally. With Gavi support, Bangladesh has immunised 38 million children since 2003, introducing new vaccines and maintaining basic immunisation coverage at an impressive 97%. Read more 
  • 24 Sep 2019: High-level Pledging Conference Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis, co-hosted by Saudi Arabia and UNHCR.
  • 24-25 Sep 2019: Annual Goalkeepers event, hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • 25 Sep 2019: Data for Health Equity: Unlocking Health for All, hosted by UNICEF and Rockefeller Foundation.
  • 25 Sep 2019: Value-based Healthcare to Achieve Sustainable Health Systems, hosted by the World Economic Forum.
  • 25 Sep 2019: Devex-GSK event: The Steps beyond the science - Health Partnerships to Achieve the 2030 Agenda.

Notes to editors

About Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 760 million children – and prevented more than 13 million deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 developing countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines. After two decades of progress, Gavi is now focused on protecting the next generation and reaching the unvaccinated children still being left behind, employing innovative finance and the latest technology – from drones to biometrics – to save millions more lives, prevent outbreaks before they can spread and help countries on the road to self-sufficiency. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. View the full list of donor governments and other leading organizations that fund Gavi’s work here.

Media Contacts


More on this topic

From other sites

Subscribe to our newsletter