Gavi Board Chair Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the signing ceremony with Eng. Yousef Al-Bassam, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the Saudi Development Fund. Credit: Gavi/2016/Amy Chang.
Riyadh, 5 October 2016 – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has agreed to contribute US$ 25 million to support childhood immunisation programs through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The multi-year pledge from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will contribute towards efforts to immunise children in Yemen.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a key partner in global health and development and this pledge underlines the country’s unwavering commitment in these areas,” said H. E. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Gavi Board. “Through the contribution of donors such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia we are able to continue to support immunisation programs in Yemen, and ensure a healthy future for children today and for generations to come. I would like to thank the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi government and the Saudi people for this generous support.”
Yemen has been in the grip of a severe political crisis since 2011 descending into a major armed conflict. Despite serious challenges faced by the country’s already-fragile health systems, Yemen managed to sustain its routine immunization coverage in 2015. Thanks to Gavi funding and support from Alliance partners, such as UNICEF and WHO, 67% of children in Yemen received a full course of the five-in-one pentavalent vaccine in 2015. Gavi will continue to support pentavalent, pneumococcal, rotavirus and inactivated polio vaccine programmes in Yemen between 2016 and 2020.
The contribution, which was first pledged at the Gavi Pledging Conference, held in Berlin in 2015, will be matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and marks the first time the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has provided funding to Gavi.
H. E. Eng. Yousef Al-Bassam, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), said “The Kingdom’s endeavour is to maintain its role in the area of social responsibility, through the fulfilment of its obligations to the local and international community, and it will continue to play this role in the future”. He said many diseases, particularly those targeting children, can be eliminated through consolidating the international community’s efforts and providing the necessary financial support for the purchase of vaccines.“ Mr. Al-Bassam highlighted the need to spread awareness about the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases through families and communities.