GAVI Alliance CEO Seth Berkley discusses strategy in working on vaccine programmes with graduating countries, during a panel discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. To his right are Robert Clay, a deputy administrator at the US Agency for International Development, and Nicole Bates, a deputy director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Credit: GAVI/2014/Jonathan Stern
Washington, DC, 25 April 2014 - The U.S. government should expand its support of the GAVI Alliance with an increased, multi-year pledge toward the 2016-2020 programme period, while also strengthening its field activities to back GAVI-financed work in implementing countries, according to an independent report by a leading think tank.
The report, focused on U.S. engagement with the GAVI Alliance, was released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. It describes the GAVI Alliance as an, “adaptive and flexible organization” that is “willing to take chances and learn from experience,” which has led to its success in immunising 440 million children, preventing more than 6 million deaths.
“The Alliance has proven itself resilient, innovative, and adaptive – achieving a great deal in nearly 15 years of partnership and collaboration,” CSIS writes.
“GAVI has done what it said it would do. That’s why donors remain supportive,” said Nicole Bates, a deputy director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, during a panel discussion about the report at CSIS. “GAVI has proven that through its model it can change that curve [of low immunisation rates], saving more children sooner. Countries are now demanding these vaccines. They must be available and affordable.”
GAVI has done what it said it would do. That’s why donors remain supportive
Nicole Bates, deputy director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The report also cites several challenges to achieving GAVI’s mission of immunising children in poor countries, including poor supply chains that hinder access to vaccines; struggles by implementing countries to pay for vaccines as GAVI Alliance financial support recedes; and difficulty in obtaining accurate data to measure the effectiveness of vaccine programmes.
As a result, the CSIS report urges the U.S. to increase its support for the GAVI Alliance, which would bolster the U.S. policy priority of promoting child health and preventing child deaths. U.S. investments in GAVI Alliance programmes “complement the vast range of bilateral U.S. health programs in GAVI-eligible and non-GAVI countries,” CSIS notes. Such bilateral U.S. work includes strengthening health systems, providing technical assistance and conducting post-vaccine assessments.
“GAVI continues to get support from the United States because of the results it achieves,” Robert Clay, a deputy administrator at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), told the CSIS panel.
Further, the emphasis placed by the GAVI Alliance on sustainability – including a requirement that implementing countries help finance the purchase of their vaccines and eventually graduate from GAVI Alliance support – fits well with U.S. President Obama's focus on country ownership.
The Obama Administration has requested a record US$ 200 million in its fiscal year 2015 budget for the GAVI Alliance, demonstrating leadership by the U.S. in spite of a difficult budgetary environment. It comes as the GAVI Alliance prepares to outline how donor investments will help reach millions more children with protection against deadly diseases between 2016 and 2020. The U.S. administration request is a strong positive signal as the Alliance moves toward its funding replenishment around year-end.
“During a tough financial time [for donors], we need more funding to get vaccines to a high level of coverage, to reach that fifth child who stands apart from the other four who have been protected,” GAVI CEO Seth Berkley told the CSIS panel.
The CSIS report cites the US$ 200 million request, and it urges the U.S. to go further:
“We have quite active outreach through our ambassadors,” Clay noted, adding that the U.S. “appreciates the recommendations. We have a big role to play, and are taking it to our field staff.”
The GAVI Alliance is funded by governments (Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States), the European Commission, the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as private and corporate partners (Absolute Return for Kids, Anglo American plc., the A&A Foundation, The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Comic Relief, the ELMA Vaccines and Immunization Foundation, JP Morgan, “la Caixa” Foundation, LDS Charities, Lions Club International Foundation, and Vodafone).
Click to view the full donor list.