GAVI: An alliance seeking to increase vaccines around the world

The GAVI Alliance, formerly The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, is an organization that helps make sure children in poor countries get the same vaccines that children in rich countries do.

They are a unique public-private global health partnership committed to saving children’s lives and protecting people’s health by increasing access to immunization in poor countries.

Since its launch in 2000, GAVI has funded the immunization of more than 288 million children. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than five million lives have been saved in GAVI’s first decade.

GAVI funds immunization programs in the world’s poorest countries where 85 % of the world’s unvaccinated children live. It also supports the strengthening of health systems and local civil society organizations to ensure effective immunization and health services. A total of US$ 4 billion has been approved for country programs between 2000 and 2015.

GAVI’s efforts are critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goal on child health, which calls for reducing childhood mortality by two-thirds by 2015. They hinge on the fact that, of the almost 9 million children who die before reaching their fifth birthday every year, 2.4 million die from diseases that are vaccine-preventable and 24 million children in the world remain unvaccinated.

The Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialized and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists. Working together, members of the GAVI Alliance are able to achieve goals no single organization could realize on its own.

Their website states that, “Each year 1.7 million children die from vaccine-preventable diseases, mainly in developing countries. That’s one child every 20 seconds. Vaccines are among the best public health tools available to save lives and protect the health of children so they can grow up to lead productive lives.”

GAVI was not established to compete with other agencies. Rather, the partners chose the alliance model in recognition of the fact that increasing access to immunization in developing countries relies on strong partnerships. GAVI is more than just the sum of its members – it creates important synergies.

While UNICEF, for instance, works more broadly with children’s rights and WHO advises on health policy, GAVI focuses exclusively on introducing new and underused vaccines in the poorest countries, and on strengthening the systems needed to deliver these vaccines. In addition, GAVI is a funding mechanism, not an implementing agency. It works through national immunization systems and with partners on the ground to deliver its programs.

GAVI’s partners have traditionally focused on making vaccines that have been around for many years, such as hepatitis B vaccine, available in developing countries. GAVI funds help to support these efforts, but also to secure access to new life-saving vaccines.

Thanks to its public-private partnership dynamic, GAVI is able to boost government and private funding through innovative financing mechanisms. Further, by bundling country demand and providing predictable financing to meet the demand, GAVI helps attract new manufacturers to the market. This increases healthy competition and reduces vaccine prices in the long term.

The GAVI model has been tested and proved over the past decade, and has paved the way for innovative approaches to development financing.

Reportedly there are 72 countries that currently receive support from GAVI.

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