Global health experts meet in Berlin to address new development goals during GAVI Alliance and GAVI Fund Board meetings

Berlin, Germany, 28 November 2006 - The GAVI Alliance and GAVI Fund Boards are meeting in Berlin to announce far-reaching strategies geared toward the strengthening of health systems in developing countries and the introduction of new vaccines against major killer diseases responsible for the deaths of more than 1.5 million children each year, most of them in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

Germany's new direct support of Euros 4 million in 2006 and an additional commitment for Euros 4 million for 2007 to the GAVI Alliance, together with the existing support of 15 other donor governments and the EU, and the recently launched International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) demonstrate a clear commitment from the international community to reach the health related Millennium Development Goals and particularly MDG41. Partnerships such as GAVI, which is working to save the lives of millions of children through the financing of vaccines and health systems in developing countries, are key to reaching these objectives.

Addressing top global health experts at a luncheon in Berlin today, Erich Stather, Germany's State Secretary for Development, noted that Germany is "fully committed to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and that health is a priority area of Germany's development cooperation. The health of children plays a crucial role in this context, also within the framework of the vaccination activities of the partner countries supported by us bilaterally. The German Government very much welcomes the GAVI initiative. We attach great importance to its task in improving health and increasing the quality and life expectancy of children in developing countries."

Commenting on Germany's support to GAVI, Professor Rita Süssmuth, member of board of directors of the GAVI Fund and former president of the Bundestag said: "I am delighted with Germany's decision, and note that both Government and Parliament have based their decisions on strong evidence and data. I am very thankful to both".

"Between 2000 and 2005, GAVI and its partners have provided funding to immunise more than 115 million children with basic, new and under-used vaccines and have helped avert more than 1.7 million deaths from vaccine preventable diseases," said Süssmuth. "The numbers tell the story," she added.

Dr. Christian Ruck, Member of Parliament and CDU/CSU spokesperson for development issues, pointed to GAVI's success in adopting a business model for development aid. He stressed that the model focuses on accountability and provides partners countries with incentives for success, while allowing them the flexibility to develop their own plans for how to reach their immunisation goals.

"GAVI offers an excellent example of how we can best support, in an efficient manner, efforts to save millions of children per year from vaccine preventable diseases," Dr. Ruck said. "By supporting GAVI we are making a wise investment."

Support for GAVI was equally echoed by members of Parliament Iris Hoffmann (SPD) and Jochen Borchert (CDU).

GAVI Alliance Executive Secretary, Dr. Julian Lob-Levyt noted that: "Germany's commitment to GAVI is particularly important in light of the German leadership of the G8 next year, and reflects Germany's clear focus in addressing the problems of poverty and health, particularly in Africa. We are very grateful for Germany's contribution to GAVI and see this as a signal that Germany intends to strengthen its support for development cooperation aiming at improving health and welfare of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people, even as it addresses budgetary constraints."

Dr. Julian Lob-Levyt noted however that: "While there are reasons to be optimistic -- support for immunisation and for GAVI is increasing -- GAVI's job is far from over. More than 27 million children still go without immunisation every year and as a result 2 to 3 million children die each year from vaccine preventable disease. Much remains to be done, particularly with new vaccines entering the market and the important need for improvements in the health systems of developing countries," he added.

1. MDG4 calls for a reduction of under-five child mortality by two thirds by 2015 from 1990 levels.

The GAVI Alliance 

An alliance of all the major stakeholders in immunisation, the GAVI Alliance includes among its partners developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, NGOs, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is estimated that more than 1.7 million early deaths will have been prevented as a result of support by GAVI up to the end of 2005.

GAVI's efforts are critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goal on child health, which calls for reducing childhood mortality by two-thirds by 2015. 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.

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