Statement by GAVI Interim CEO, Helen Evans 

Geneva, 23 April 2011 - Saving the life of even one child is always a big success. As we celebrate this year's immunisation week, which begins on 23 April, we congratulate the World Health Organisation and all GAVI Alliance partners on the millions of child lives saved through immunisation.

Vaccines save lives. Every child is a life worth saving.

Helen Evans, Interim CEO, GAVI Alliance

This year, the African and Western Pacific regions are observing immunisation week for the first time, reinforcing the point that prevention is better than cure.

All over the world, medical workers are travelling by truck, bike, boat, donkey, camel, and even yak to deliver more and more live-saving vaccines to the poorest corners of the world from Afghanistan to Zanzibar.

In Rwanda, 98% of children now receive immunisation against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough), putting coverage rates on a level with western Europe and helping reduce the country's child mortality by more than a third since 2000.

In the Western Pacific region, Cambodia and North Korea - both supported by GAVI - have boosted immunisation coverage to 94% and 93% from 59% and 56% in 2000 respectively.

The GAVI Alliance is the sum of all its partners. Consisting of WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank, health ministries in developing countries, donors, civil society, and others, we are able to achieve more together than any one of us could alone.

Thanks to our collective efforts, death by vaccine-preventable disease is dropping. If fully funded, the Alliance hopes to vaccinate 243 million more children and save nearly four million more lives by 2015. This includes rolling out new pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines, to reach 90 million and 53 million children respectively, in order to address the two biggest killers of children, pneumonia and diarrhoea.

To complete these ambitious goals, GAVI requires US$ 3.7 billion. On June 13th, the UK government will host a pledging conference in London, asking donors to contribute these funds for the period 2011 to 2015.

When governments, private companies and individual philanthropists invest in immunisation, they are investing in one of the most cost-effective public health investments.

Vaccines save lives. Every child is a life worth saving.

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