Vaccines are “miracles,” Bill Gates likes to say, because of their power to prevent death and disease so simply and at such a low cost.
Today, at a meeting in London held to increase funding for one of global health’s biggest success stories, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, governments and international donors agreed to boost funding for the vaccine intiative by $4.3 billion — exceeding GAVI’s request of $3.7 billion
The new money — most of which came from the British government, the Norwegian government and the Gates Foundation — will allow the vaccine alliance to vaccinate 250 million more children worldwide and prevent at least 4 million child deaths over the next five years.
The funding allows expanding the initiative’s portfolio to include two new vaccines against two big killers, pneumonia and diarrhea.
“For the first time in history, children in developing countries will receive the same vaccines against diarrhea and pneumonia as children in rich countries,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Together we must do more to ensure that all children – no matter where they live – have equal access to life-saving vaccines.”
In this time of economic recession, when governments and donors are reluctant to even maintain, let alone increase, foreign aid, GAVI’s success at fund-raising is extraordinary.
There’s little question GAVI is making a big difference in terms of global health, having so far prevented something like 5 million deaths. I’ve written several posts recently emphasizing this point, and to some extent perhaps sounding a bit like an advocate for GAVI.
It’s hard not to be when you look at what this project has accomplished in terms of lives saved.
But there are some questioning whether GAVI is, in fact, saving the most lives possible by getting the biggest bang for the buck. This question was raised today, at the London meeting and at the press conference. Continue reading