An extra £2.8bn is needed to meet a global goal of vaccinating millions of children in poor countries by 2015. In 2000, world leaders from 189 countries signed up to the Millennium Development Goals to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015. But the GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunisation) now says a further £3.8m is needed if it is to meet that goal. Every year, millions of children in the world’s poorest countries die from conditions that can be treated easily in richer countries. They die not only because of lack of medicines but also because many are so undernourished that mild complaints become killers.The most vulnerable are children under five years old.
GAVI, which is backed by the World Health Organisation, the World Bank, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and vaccine makers, says it has 40 per cent of the £4.6bn it needs between now and 2015 to achieve its goal. It has asked current and future donors to talks in The Hague next week, to challenge them to "make a strong impact" on childhood death rates. The group has almost finished a large-scale campaign to supply five-in-one vaccines to fight a range of preventable diseases including hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough and Hib in developing countries. "With $7 billion, GAVI will be able to fully roll out pentavalent vaccine and introduce new vaccines against pneumococcal disease and rotavirus diarrhoea in over 40 countries," it said in a statement. "These last two vaccines alone can save one million children by 2015."
Last week, Britain promised £150m over the next 10 years for GAVI's core funding, which the group's deputy chief executive Helen Evans said she hopes other nations will follow. "This is the first sovereign donor to have made a 10-year commitment to GAVI, and that really helps because it builds predictability into funding...and actually helps to shape the market for vaccines," she told Reuters news service. Children living in richer countries are routinely given jabs against the bacteria causing deadly diseases such as Hib, pneumococcus and rotavirus. But in much of Africa, Asia and Latin America, babies and young people often remain dangerously exposed. Last week, GAVI said it expected to announce a deal very soon on the supply of up to 200 million doses a year of cut-price pneumococcal vaccines to developing nations.
By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children