€1 million donation to GAVI Alliance to fight major childhood diseases

Geneva/Dublin, 11 January 2010 - Ireland has reaffirmed its commitment to children in the developing world by announcing a further €1 million in funding to the GAVI Alliance to immunize vulnerable children.

The funding will support GAVI's efforts to increase and sustain vaccination rates in the world's poorest countries against major diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, Haemophilus influenzae type B, hepatitis B and yellow fever.

Effective and strategic programme

"Children in developing countries are 10 times more likely to die from a vaccine-preventable disease than they are in wealthier nations," Ireland's Minister for Overseas Development, Peter Power, said.

"In 2008 alone, almost nine million children died before their fifth birthday, nearly a quarter of whom succumbed to vaccine-preventable illnesses. GAVI's effective and strategic programme of support to the world's poorest countries is playing a key role in stemming these unconscionable losses."

Promoting and protecting health

Minister Power explained that health is one of the key sectors supported by Irish Aid. "Promoting and protecting the health of a nation, especially its children, are crucial factors in the fight against poverty," he added.

GAVI's CEO Julian Lob-Levyt thanked the Irish government for their support.

"GAVI is a committed partner to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, both through the potential of vaccines to deliver significant impact on Goal 4 - to reduce child mortality - and the long-term health benefits of immunisation that will accrue to all MDGs," he said.

Highest rate of coverage

Ireland has supported GAVI-funded immunisation programmes with € 26 million so far.

By the end of 2009, DTP3 coverage (full immunisation against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus) in countries where GAVI works reached 79%, the highest rate of coverage ever experienced in the developing world.

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