UN-supported initiative helps vaccinate 10.5 million children against hepatitis

UN-supported initiative helps vaccinate 10.5 million children against hepatitis

About 10.5 million children in developing countries have been vaccinated against hepatitis B, which causes liver diseases and cancer, as part of a United Nations-supported initiative that has helped 55 nations to improve their immunization services.

According to the progress report of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), there is clear evidence that a public-private alliance, along with significant financial backing from the Alliance’s financing branch, known as the Vaccine Fund, can create a new interest in vaccines for the poorest countries.

Partners in the Alliance include public institutions such as the UN World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank; bilateral aid and non-governmental agencies; the vaccine industry; new partners such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and developing country governments.

"Our times require new solutions, including new partnerships – with private industry, developing country governments, and new ways of financing. The Alliance has helped us to deliver more and faster than if any of the partners had gone it alone," said Dr. Tore Godal, Executive Secretary of GAVI.

The report, released today in Dakar, Senegal, at a gathering of global health leaders from more than 60 countries, including more than 30 health and finance ministers, says that since the program started, 130 million vaccine doses have been delivered to countries. Meanwhile, preliminary estimates by WHO say those vaccines have already saved more than 100,000 lives.

The report notes, however, that war, political turmoil, failing economies and natural disaster have impeded the transfer of GAVI/Vaccine Fund assets to local governments in some countries, while in others, the introduction of a complex new vaccine has over-stressed fragile health systems.