Global perspective Human stories

Commitments for global immunization effort exceeds $600 million

Commitments for global immunization effort exceeds $600 million

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the Vaccine Fund have approved a fourth round of funding awards, bringing the vaccine effort's total commitments over the next five years to more than $600 million for immunization programmes in 36 of the poorest countries in the developing world.

The GAVI board also welcomed Carol Bellamy, the Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as its new chair, and the United Kingdom, the UN Foundation and the Pasteur Institute as new board members. The decisions were made public at the fifth GAVI board meeting held in London last week.

"We're up and running," said Jacques-Francois Martin, president of the Vaccine Fund, which had been launched by GAVI partners with a five-year, $750 million contribution from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2000. "Just one year after we issued the first call for proposals we're delivering vaccines and saving lives."

Of the 25 countries that were approved in the first three rounds, 11 countries have already received their first instalment of financial support from the Vaccine Fund to strengthen their health infrastructures, while 5 have received shipments of vaccines. Working with newly developed, long-term purchasing agreements with manufacturers, GAVI and the Vaccine Fund have already committed to purchase more than 300 million doses of vaccines over the next three years.

"The power of GAVI is in the collaboration between partners," said Ms. Bellamy, who will take over as chair of the GAVI board on 1 July, following the two-year term of Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). "When you have UN agencies, industrialized country donors, vaccine manufacturers, and developing country health officials all sitting around the same table, public health programmes can be much more effective."