UNICEF chief takes over as chairperson of global immunization alliance
Assuming the leadership role of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) on the final day of the quarterly board session, Ms. Bellamy paid tribute to her predecessor, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), for an "outstanding job" over the past two years as GAVI's first chair.
"Under her guidance, GAVI has become synonymous with energetic and innovative efforts to reach all the world's children with life-saving vaccines," the UNICEF chief said. "GAVI has also become a leading example of what private-public partnerships can accomplish, and how important collaboration is in overcoming the complex challenges that face our global community."
Ms. Bellamy said her focus as chair of GAVI would be improving the capacity of governments to provide immunization services, increasing immunization rates worldwide, both for the six most well-known childhood diseases - polio, tetanus, diphtheria, measles, pertussis and tuberculosis - as well as for other childhood killers for which vaccines have become available but not yet widespread.
"During the 1980s and 90s, a partnership between UNICEF, WHO and governments succeeded in raising global immunization rates from less than 20 per cent in 1980 to 74 per cent in 1999," she said. "The GAVI partnership has the resources, the know-how and the leadership commitment to take childhood immunization to new heights."
GAVI, a unique private-public partnership that includes the pharmaceutical industry, aims to reach the 30 million children in developing countries who are not immunized. It also aims to make under-used vaccines, such as yellow fever, and new vaccines, such as hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), available to all children at risk of contracting these diseases by 2002 and 2005, respectively.