Today we get to celebrate a significant milestone for global health equity.
The GAVI Alliance, an organisation that helps make sure children in poor countries get the same vaccines that children in rich countries do, just met its fundraising target for the next four years. They did it despite the fact that donors everywhere are coping with budget crises.
This news comes on the heels of an announcement by several multinational and developing country vaccine manufacturers that they will be lowering the prices of some key vaccines. Together, these developments mean that we can save more than four million additional lives by 2015.
Vaccines are one of the best long-term investments to prevent disease and give children a healthy start in life. But for a long time, the healthiest children in the least danger were getting vaccines, and the children who needed vaccines the most weren’t getting them.
In many cases, it took decades before vaccines made for developed-country markets were available in poor countries. Take the example of rotavirus, the leading causes of diarrheal disease. Only children in poor countries die from rotavirus, yet the vaccines for the disease was made available first in rich countries!
That’s why increasing access to vaccines for the world’s poorest countries is one of the top priorities of the Gates Foundation, and that’s why today we pledged an additional $1 billion to support the lifesaving work of the GAVI Alliance over the next five years. We were joined by many other donors who understand that buying vaccines saves lives, and who know it is an investment worth making, no matter how tight their budgets.
I hope we celebrate this fantastic news by redoubling our efforts to reach the next milestone, and the next, until there is no longer any gap in health care between rich and poor countries.
With the continued generosity of donors and the commitment of developing countries to reach every child, everywhere, the world will reach the point where the circumstances of a child’s birth have nothing to do with whether he or she gets lifesaving vaccines.
Today, the UK Government joined the Gates Foundation and other international partners to support the GAVI Alliance with enough funding to help vaccinate more than 250 million children. This is just one of the promises we made to change the lives of millions of the world’s poorest people and we want to show you how we’re getting on. Find out more at www.dfid.gov.uk/changinglives
Please note, this is a guest blog. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of DFID or have the support of the British Government.