Rajeev Venkayya


The biggest success story in global health you’ve never heard of | 


A shot at life

Vaccines are boring, or if you’re getting one kind of unpleasant. And their health impact is basically invisible.

These all sound like minor side issues, but they amount to a big problem. A deadly problem.

It partly explains why you have either never heard of GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, or, if you have, you may not think it’s nearly as important to global health as all the other high-profile efforts going on in the fight against other killers like AIDS, malaria or maternal mortality.

Yet vaccines clearly are saving more lives worldwide than any other single health intervention.

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve immunized about 288 million children and saved about 5 million lives,” said Helen Evans, interim director of GAVI and an Australian health expert. “It’s absolutely extraordinary.”

Expanding and improving child vaccination rates is also the top-funded mission, and arguably the most successful initiative to date, of the world’s biggest philanthropy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Continue reading