Former President of Ireland and High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson will lead the GAVI Alliance's new executive board

GENEVA, October 30, 2008 - Former President of Ireland and High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson will lead the GAVI Alliance's new executive board, created today to strengthen the organisation's ability to meet global health challenges.

"I feel humbled and honored to be elected," said Robinson. "Over these past few years, I have witnessed GAVI achieve extraordinary success through its unique public and private approach to improving the health of the world's poor, especially children. The new board structure embodies this approach and will enable us to meet the challenges ahead."

The GAVI Alliance was created in 2000 to ramp up its members' immunisation efforts in the developing world. Today, alliance members provide nearly US$ 1 billion of support for vaccine purchase and related programmes to over 70 poor countries. According to World Health Organization estimates, GAVI support has helped immunise 213 million children and prevent 3.4 million future deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases.

"As the global economy enters into a period of recession, it will be our challenge to stay focused on reaching the Millennium Development Goals through increasing the positive impact that immunisation provides on people's lives," said Robinson.

The 28-member board has representatives from developing countries, donor governments, UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank, private institutions like the Gates Foundation, civil society, and the vaccine industry, plus independent experts. A 10-member executive committee and five committees for programme and policy, audit and finance, governance, investment, and fundraising will provide support.

WHO Assistant Director-General Denis Aitken was elected as the board's Vice Chairman. Graça Machel, former first lady of Mozambique and a GAVI founding member, will retain a board seat.

The new body replaces a two board structure that was created when the alliance was launched and will help support the establishment of the alliance as an international institution in Switzerland.

The GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) is a public-private partnership of major stakeholders in immunisation. It includes developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and individuals.

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