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The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation has just finished its pledging conference.
GAVI received a total of $4.3b in pledges, well in excess of the $3.7b that they were aiming for.
The biggest contributions came from the UK government at $1.3b, and the Gates Foundation at $1b. Norway and the USA made large contributions, as did Australia (as we reported last night).
Below the headlines though, there's some exciting developments. Brazil and Korea made pledges. An increasing number of private foundations pledged too. You can see a full breakdown of GAVI's pledges here.
This isn't just a case of rich helping poor - it's a case of global solidarity where there's strong recognition that the health of children everywhere matters to all of us.
This overwhelming support for GAVI demonstrates that even in tough economic times, there's space to do the right thing.
As one of the many organisations who have campaigned to support GAVI's life-saving work, thank you.
But remember, there is still much to be done.
We must remain vigilant and ensure that the pledges become cheques, and the cheques become results.
We must hold our governments to account for these promises, and hold GAVI to account to ensure that they're getting the greatest possible value for money. Oxfam and MSF have asked some tough questions about the effectiveness and efficiency of GAVI, and we need to welcome these as an essential step to ensuring accounability.
We must remember that GAVI supports only a few vaccines - there's still a funding gap in the fight to end polio - and that vaccines are just a small part of the bigger movement for global health, which in turn is part of the bigger movement to end extreme poverty.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation pledging conference got off a great start this evening as Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, the back of whose head you can see here, pledged $200m over the next 3 years to save the lives of the world's poorest and most vulnerable children.
The Foreign Minister received a well-deserved spontaneous round of applause after his announcement, a congratulatory pat on the back from Bill Gates (in the right of the image), and a rather impressed smile from UK Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell (on the left).
$200m over 3 years represents a more than threefold increase in funding to GAVI from the Australian Government, enabled by the increase in foreign aid to 0.5% of GNI that has been secured in recent years. [Update: we previously said tenfold increase, but were rightly corrected by Garth Luke at World Vision Australia. It's gone from $20m a year to $67m a year]
This result is a testament to hard work of Australian citizens demanding more of their government, and especially the work of our friends at RESULTS Australia, whose tireless campaigning on GAVI has surely had an impact here.
GAVI has saved 5.4 million lives over the past 10 years, and has the potential to save another 4 million in the next 5 years - if it receives enough funding at Monday's pledging conference.
In just over 12 hours, the full donor conference happens, and by about 2:00pm UK time, we expect to know how much of the $3.7b (£2.3b) needed by GAVI is forthcoming to fund vaccines for roughly 243 million children.
But, as GAVI staff were keen to point out to me today, a pledge is a long way from a cheque, and a cheque is a long way from success.
That's why it's vital that we keep pushing our Governments to deliver on their promises, and ensure transparency and accountability in the way that our aid money is spent so that we're sure it goes to saving lives through organisations like GAVI.
GAVI is a testament to the power of well-targeted, effective aid, and a reminder in these tough economic times that our money really can make a difference.
We welcome the announcement by Foreign Minister Rudd, and look forward to the announcements by other Governments, Foundations and groups in the next 24 hours, which together, could help millions of mothers and fathers around the world forgo the pain of losing a child to an easily preventible disease like diahrroea.
This post was originally published by RESULTS UK here.
Earlier this week the announcement was made by the GAVI Alliance that a number of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world, including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Crucell and Sanofi-Aventis, will be making impressive price cuts on vaccines which target killer diseases in poor countries and could save the lives of hundreds of thousands children. The vaccines are supplied to GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation. RESULTS is very pleased that these price cuts will allow even more children to be vaccinated and lives saved.
The announced price cuts made by GSK on rotavirus vaccines, which protect children again the major childhood killer diarrhea, amount to 67 percent. Merck, and the India-based firms Serum Institute and Panacea Biotec followed suit and offered significant cuts on the rotavirus vaccine as well. Bill and Melinda Gates published a statement praising the price cuts on the rotavirus vaccine. The vaccine puts a stop to the easily preventable rotavirus that causes severe diarrhoea, and ultimately leads to the deaths of 500,000 children annually. Additionally Serum and Panacea are discounting prices for pentavalent vaccines which protect against Diphtheria, Tetanus, Hepatitis B, Haemophilus Influenzae Type B and Pertussis (Whooping Cough), while Crucell and Sanofi Pasteur offered to extend special GAVI prices to another 16 countries.
The companies have received praise for this decision from many organisations, as it points to a growing commitment within the industry to make affordable and sustainable vaccine prices happen. Justin Forsynth, the chief executive at Save the Children calls this opportunity “a landmark move, potentially saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of children” however he additionally notes that this move also needs to be fully utilized by GAVI to put pressure on other vaccine producers to follow suit, and to reduce prices and spur competition among vaccine producers. GAVI is actively fundraising at the moment, most immediately on Monday the 13th in London at a conference hosted by David Cameron. This makes this the ideal time to look more closely at who GAVI is asking for funding from, and what the conditions and negotiations entail.
In spite of this significant commitment towards saving lives, the savings will only cover a smaller part of GAVI’s large funding gap of $3.7 billion. Médecins Sans Frontierès and Oxfam, which use the vaccines distributed by GAVI in the field, have criticised the emergence of this “black hole in vaccine funds”.
More can always be done to drive prices lower. A key step is to publish the paid vaccine prices, as UNICEF recently announced that they are doing, which will allow low-cost producers of vaccines to make informed decisions about whether they can enter the market at a lower price than the existing producers, stimulating competition. In addition, key investments can be made by donors to allow producers to enter the market. This will allow for GAVI to continuously save even more lives by shifting the game rules of the market while simultaneously achieving a higher degree of transparency.
On June 13, world leaders will gather in London for a donor conference for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.
GAVI has saved 5.4 million lives in the last 10 years, and could save another 4 million in the next 5 years - if it has enough money.
Right now, GAVI is £2.3 billion short of what it needs, which is why Monday's meeting is so important, and why the Global Poverty Project, alongside our friends at ONE, Save the Children and RESULTS have been campaigning to ensure that our governments make strong and ambitious pledges.
To put this £2.3 billion in perspective, it works out to a funding gap of around £450m a year. That's just one fifth of the £2.12b it's estimated is spent each year around the world on hair loss treatments. And, in a country where one of the biggest news stories of the week is Wayne Rooney's hair transplant, it's one that we think is particularly timely.
Diarrhoea - an illness that all of us have had - kills 2 million children every year. A third of these deaths are caused by Rotavirus, a curable, preventable virus for which there's now a vaccine. Drug company Glaxo-Smith Kline have just reduced the cost of this vaccine for GAVI by 95%, which means that a fully-funded GAVI could save 500,000 lives a year from this one intervention alone.
But beyond the numbers, GAVI is about real people's lives, as the below clip about Rotavirus shows so well...
It's a welcome sight to see such a positively framed story on the cover of one of the world's magazines, and the accompanying article is well worth a read.
The answer, it turns out, is no - we won't be able to eradicate the disease until we have a vaccine, and even then, as a chronic syndrome, it will take a generation to stop.
But, that doesn't detract from the amazing story of how the world has responded to the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Inside the magazine, and online, it contains a truly impressive graph, reproduced below.
It shows how AIDS deaths peaked in 2005, and how thanks to the miracle of anti-retro viral drugs, lives are being saved. It's estimated that 5 million lives have been saved so far, and as the Global Fund and others scale up their work, there's even more scope for progress.
Contracting HIV/AIDS as a person in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s was akin to a death sentence, as far too many of my South African friends have witnessed first hand. Today, it's still a life-changing disease, but millions have access to drugs that can transform lives, as the below clip shows.
As the public and politicians ask increasingly blunt questions about the effectiveness of aid, it's to results like these that we need to point.
Aid, invested wisely, works.
Some of the world's poorest countries have no other way of funding the drugs needed to fight HIV/AIDS - or as world leaders ready to gather in London for the GAVI pledging conference, basic vaccines for disease that could save 4 million lives in the next 5 years.
That's why we're committed at the Global Poverty Project to working with others to ensure that our aid budget is spent on things that really work, and which really make a difference in the lives of the world's poor.