International dignitaries in New York convene to recognise progress of global immunisation in combating death toll among poorest children

New York, 24 September 2007 - At an event in NYC on Monday night, child advocates drawn from an unusual pool - the financial services industry - are celebrating, with a member of Spain's royal house, a former president of Ireland, and a renowned former US Secretary of State, the happy outcome of applying the lessons of business to the business of saving children's lives.

La Infanta Cristina of Spain, President Mary Robinson and Secretary Madeleine Albright have all been working together to enlist accomplished professionals from the financial world in a long-range campaign, run by the GAVI Alliance, to help stop preventable infectious diseases killing millions of children every year in poor nations.

In just over five years, strategic investments by the GAVI Alliance have prevented 2.3 million early deaths through immunisation. Yet each year 2.5 million children under five still die from diseases that can be prevented by existing vaccines.

"We need to step up our efforts to eliminate preventable diseases in the developing world," stated Andrew Maguire, Executive Director of the new private fundraising effort The GAVI Fund's Immunize Every Child Campaign. "GAVI offers flexibility, speed, and business savvy in bringing effective new vaccines to hundreds of millions of children in the world's poorest countries. GAVI's innovative business model is demonstrating strong appeal among philanthropists with experience in the business and financial services industries."

The GAVI Fund's Immunize Every Child Campaign was established in January 2007 to engage the private sector in the GAVI Alliance's life-saving mission. Investors who have made or secured significant commitments to The GAVI Alliance are acknowledged by the Campaign's recognition society, the Every Child Council.

At Monday night's event the founding members of that council - a diverse and dynamic group of influential individuals - from public and private life are being recognised at a celebratory founders' reception on 24 September at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum on the Upper East Side. This event, timed to occur between the opening of the UN General Assembly and the fall meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, is co-hosted by Madeleine Albright, GAVI Alliance Executive Secretary Julian Lob-Levyt, and Mary Robinson.

Her Royal Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, Her Royal Highness the Infanta Cristina of Spain, and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, will be designated honorary founding members of the Council in recognition of their many efforts on behalf of children and childhood immunisation. Jon Corzine, governor of the State of New Jersey, Mel Karmazin, chief executive officer, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, and George Wellde, Jr., Managing Director, Goldman Sachs, will also be recognised for their exemplary support for GAVI's work.

The more than 100 prominent guests will also include leading figures in business, finance, global health, and international development, as well as selected journalists and writers. The historic venue is the former mansion of legendary U.S. industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

Long-term support to GAVI from 17 governments, the European Commission, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is saving lives and strengthening healthcare delivery systems in more than 70 of the world's poorest nations, and more than $2.6 billion in traditional funding has been committed through 2015.

"There is still so much to do," says Andrew Maguire. "Starting now and over the next decade, GAVI and its partners must massively scale up to reach every at-risk child in the poorest countries with the vaccines we already have. At the same time, we need to invest in a new generation of vaccines against deadly scourges of the developing world like pneumococcal disease."

Within the last year the GAVI Alliance has fostered the creation of the International Finance Facility for Immunisation and the Advance Market Commitment for Vaccines to generate large-scale investment in immunisation, vaccine research and development and to harness market forces. Now the search for new and additional sources of innovation capital is leading GAVI in another new direction: to a critical mass of entrepreneurial private investors who believe in GAVI's business model and are committed to making the difference that will protect millions of children's lives.

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