Last big push in advance of the vaccine summit, on blogs and British media anyway

A shot at life

On Monday, at a big international conference in London focused on expanding global access to childhood vaccinations, one of the big questions is if the Obama Administration will step up with the U.S. share of the funding.

Nearly two million children in poor countries die annually from mundane vaccine-preventable diseases that children in wealthy nations don’t die from. Vaccines are cheap, compared to most health interventions, and can cheaply save millions of lives. As I said yesterday, this shouldn’t be a hard sell.

Oddly, the hard sell is mostly going on in the blogosphere (see ONE Campaign, for example) and being covered by overseas media.

The American media isn’t paying much attention … sigh.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization was launched a decade ago out of Seattle, by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and initially operated by PATH. It remains the single-biggest project the Seattle philanthropy has ever done, and yet has been fairly low-profile.

I wrote about the launch of this project almost exactly a decade ago, when it was just getting started (and when newspapers had money for travel and foreign correspondences).

GAVI has since prevented an estimated 5 million deaths — more than the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, or any global health initiative out there right now. This is pretty much a big fat success story.

Still, hardly anybody knew (or knows) the story. The lack of public recognition didn’t matter so much before, but has turned into a funding problem. So there’s this big media blitz going on in advance of the Monday summit, where governments and donors will be asked to declare what level of support they intend to provide to GAVI.

Here are some further news reports/comments leading up to Monday:

BBC: It’s “make or break” for global vaccines initiative

The Independent: Four-hour meeting on vaccines could save 4 million lives

Orin Levine, Huffington Post: 10 years of vaccine progress in 10 days

Amanda Glassman at the Center for Global Development: Will Obama provide adequate money for vaccines?

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.