Geneva, Switzerland and Washington, D.C., USA, 26 February 2007 - The United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation) announced today that it has received a US$139 million contribution from the GAVI Alliance to support the worldwide effort by the Measles Initiative to reduce measles deaths by 90 percent by 2010. This is GAVI's second contribution to the Measles Initiative, a public-private partnership that recently announced an unprecedented decline in measles deaths in Africa.
"The United Nations Foundation - and everyone who cares about the health of children around the world - is grateful for GAVI's support of the Measles Initiative. The Measles Initiative and GAVI are two of the most successful global health initiatives in recent years," said Timothy E. Wirth, President of the UN Foundation. "Together we are demonstrating what can be accomplished when the public and private sectors work together to solve major global issues."
Last month the Measles Initiative announced that measles mortality had been reduced by 60 percent between 1999 and 2005. "GAVI's new support, generated from a new financing initiative, is a major 'shot in the arm' for the global effort to reduce measles deaths by 90 percent by 2010" Wirth added.
"Vaccines are a best buy in health, as demonstrated by the dramatic drop in measles-related deaths we have recently witnessed," said Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary of the GAVI Alliance. "We will invest the resources it takes to save children from deadly diseases such as measles, working together with partners such as the UN Foundation and the Measles Initiative," Lob-Levyt continued. "Long term commitments and partnerships of this kind are crucial if we are to reach the Millennium Development Goals on health" he concluded.
GAVI's US$139 million contribution to the Measles Initiative is made possible by an innovative new initiative known as the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm). IFFIm has been designed to accelerate the availability of funds to be used for health and immunisation programmes in 70 of the world's poorest countries. The Measles Initiative is one of the first programmes to benefit from IFFIm funding. "The IFFIm was designed to accelerate availability of resources for priority immunisation programmes. The Measles Initiative presents a particularly strong case for this significant investment, and we are very pleased that priority measles campaigns will receive a significant boost as a result of this contribution," said Alan Gillespie, Chair of the IFFIm Board.
Measles deaths have fallen by 60 percent worldwide since 1999 - a major public health success. This exceeds the United Nations goal to cut measles deaths in half between 1999 and 2005.
The Measles Initiative is a long-term partnership between the American Red Cross, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the UN Foundation, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO). Recent data from the WHO, released at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, also showed that support from GAVI and the Measles Initiative partners had helped increase overall immunization rates in poor countries to an all-time high, 77 percent in 2006 from 63 percent in 1999*.
More than 360 million children were vaccinated between 2000 and 2005 as a result of Measles Initiative campaigns. The US$139 million GAVI contribution to the UN Foundation will help expand the Measles Initiative's global efforts over the next four years. In 2007, planned measles campaigns are expected to reach 195 million children in at least 32 countries; in 2008, campaigns will target 79.4 million children in at least 14 countries.
Measles vaccination campaigns are also contributing to the reduction of child deaths from other causes. They have become a channel for the delivery of other life-saving interventions, such as bed nets to protect against malaria, de-worming medicine, and vitamin A supplements. Combining measles immunisation with other health interventions is a contribution towards achieving Millennium Development Goal Number 4: a two-thirds reduction in child deaths between 1990 and 2015.
*DPT3 Coverage estimates by WHO.
About the UN Foundation:
The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner's historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation builds and implements public-private partnerships to address the world's most pressing problems and also works to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. The UN Foundation is a public charity. www.unfoundation.org
About the GAVI Alliance:
An alliance of all the major stakeholders in immunisation, the GAVI Alliance includes among its partners developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, NGOs, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is estimated that more than 2.3 million early deaths will have been prevented as a result of support by GAVI up to the end of 2006. GAVI's efforts are critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goal on child health, which calls for reducing childhood mortality by two-thirds by 2015. Of the more than 10 million children who die before reaching their fifth birthday every year, 2.5 million die from diseases that could be prevented with currently available or new vaccines.
About the IFFIm:
The aim of the International Finance Facility for Immunisation Company (IFFIm) is to accelerate the availability of funds to be used for health and immunisation programmes through the GAVI Alliance in 70 of the world's poorest countries. By investing the majority of resources up front-"frontloading"-this innovative funding programme will increase significantly the flow of aid during the years up to and including 2015. An anticipated IFFIm investment of US$4 billion is expected to help prevent five million child deaths between 2006 and 2015. For more information visit: www.iffim.org