The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) celebrated the first anniversary of its pledging conference last week. As we reported last year, during the conference GAVI received contributions from a diverse range of countries including the UK, USA, Australia, Brazil, Korea and Norway, as well as the Gates Foundation. In total a significant $4.3 billion was pledged to promote global health through immunisation. This anniversary does not only give us a chance to mark this occasion but allows us to reflect upon what GAVI has achieved since the conference.
As promised, GAVI has supported countries to distribute life-saving vaccines. The two biggest global childhood killers are pneumonia and severe diarrhoea, which is why two thirds of GAVI’s approved programmes, in late 2011, involved vaccinating against pneumococcal disease and rotavirus. In April of this year Ghana launched both programmes, which you can find out more about in their ‘Doing the Double’ video. This was followed by Rwanda, who in May introduced rotavirus vaccines – (in addition to the pneumococcal vaccines launched in April of 2009). However, GAVI is increasingly investing in vaccinations against measles, rubella, hepatitis B to prevent liver cancer, and HPV which is the main cause of cervical cancer in women. Last week, the Gavi Board announced up to an additional $162 million to combat a recent resurgence of measles, and will target high risk countries such as Afghanistan and Ethiopia.
GAVI have also managed to work with manufacturers to bring down the price of vaccinations so that the world’s poor can get quicker and cheaper access to them. For instance, agreements with their industry partners have resulted in a 67% reduction in the price of rotavirus vaccines. GAVI has clearly had a successful year and the routine immunisation rate across all GAVI supported countries is 80%. You can view an online version of their full report card, which charts their progress so far. The below chart estimates how many deaths GAVI have averted through vaccination.
Nevertheless, much more needs to be done if they are to meet their goal of immunising an additional 250 million children by 2015 and creating fair access to immunisation for all. In the world, one out of every five children still doesn’t receive their basic vaccinations. Both poverty and socio-economic inequality have created a situation where some have access to vaccination but others do not. GAVI strive hard to tackle this inequality; but it is only one element of a larger movement to promote global health and tackle extreme poverty. This includes vaccinations against diseases GAVI does not cover- such as polio which desperately needs further investment if it is to be eradicated. However it also goes beyond vaccination and tackling wider issues which cause inequality and extreme global poverty.
What GAVI have shown us in the past year is that through collaboration, investment, and a global desire to make a difference, something can be done.
* Images: GAVI 2011 Doune Porter Tanzania and GAVI 2011 Future Deaths Averted by Vaccine.