The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation pledging conference got off a great start this evening as Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, the back of whose head you can see here, pledged $200m over the next 3 years to save the lives of the world's poorest and most vulnerable children.
The Foreign Minister received a well-deserved spontaneous round of applause after his announcement, a congratulatory pat on the back from Bill Gates (in the right of the image), and a rather impressed smile from UK Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell (on the left).
$200m over 3 years represents a more than threefold increase in funding to GAVI from the Australian Government, enabled by the increase in foreign aid to 0.5% of GNI that has been secured in recent years. [Update: we previously said tenfold increase, but were rightly corrected by Garth Luke at World Vision Australia. It's gone from $20m a year to $67m a year]
This result is a testament to hard work of Australian citizens demanding more of their government, and especially the work of our friends at RESULTS Australia, whose tireless campaigning on GAVI has surely had an impact here.
GAVI has saved 5.4 million lives over the past 10 years, and has the potential to save another 4 million in the next 5 years - if it receives enough funding at Monday's pledging conference.
In just over 12 hours, the full donor conference happens, and by about 2:00pm UK time, we expect to know how much of the $3.7b (£2.3b) needed by GAVI is forthcoming to fund vaccines for roughly 243 million children.
But, as GAVI staff were keen to point out to me today, a pledge is a long way from a cheque, and a cheque is a long way from success.
That's why it's vital that we keep pushing our Governments to deliver on their promises, and ensure transparency and accountability in the way that our aid money is spent so that we're sure it goes to saving lives through organisations like GAVI.
GAVI is a testament to the power of well-targeted, effective aid, and a reminder in these tough economic times that our money really can make a difference.
We welcome the announcement by Foreign Minister Rudd, and look forward to the announcements by other Governments, Foundations and groups in the next 24 hours, which together, could help millions of mothers and fathers around the world forgo the pain of losing a child to an easily preventible disease like diahrroea.