WASHINGTON, D.C. – Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) is a public-private partnership that provides immunizations to the poorest children in the world.
The partnership consist of UNICEF, WHO, The World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a variety of civil society organizations, governments of developing and industrialized countries, the pharmaceutical industry in developing and industrialized countries, as well as research and technical health institutes.
GAVI works to immunize the 22.6 million children who lack basic immunizations. It provides the Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Measles vaccine, Meningitis A vaccine, Pentavalent vaccine, Pneumococcal vaccine, Measles-Rubella vaccine, Rotavirus vaccine, and the Yellow Fever vaccine.
GAVI also works to reduce the cost of immunizing children. Since 2010, the cost to immunize three vital vaccines has decreased from $35 to $23. However, as more immunizations have been added to the recommendation list, the overall cost to inoculate children has risen in the last ten years from $1.50 for the prevention of six diseases to nearly $40 today for the prevention of eleven.
Since its inception in 2000, GAVI has prevented more than 5 million deaths. Their current goal is to prevent an additional 4 million deaths by immunizing 243 million children between 2011-2015. GAVI recently reported they are on track to meet this ambitious goal and have secured $7.4bn for the 2011-2015 period.
Why does GAVI focus on immunizations?
Simply stated, vaccines remove a major barrier to human development. By vaccinating children, their entire lives change course, as well as the lives of their parents, community members, and ultimately their whole community.
Let’s take Abdi for example. Abdi is a one-year-old boy living in Uganda. He received a full inoculation through a GAVI partner. Once he reaches the age of five, he is healthy and ready to start school in the coming year. Many of his childhood friends who were not immunized unfortunately died before they reached the age of five. Abdi starts first grade and is able to attend class every day and stay focused on school, because he rarely gets sick.
His parents are able to focus on their responsibilities instead of supervising a sick child at home. Moreover, they are able to save money for food, clothing, and other basic necessities, as Abdi does not constantly need medication. Therefore, Abdi is well fed and does not suffer from malnutrition like some of his friends. Also, some of Abdi’s friends benefit from Abdi’s inoculation, as Abdi rarely gets sick and therefore does not pass on sickness to his nearest friends.
Abdi finishes school with excelling grades and is able to get a better start in life. He gains a better job and is able to save money and invest in his community. Throughout his long and healthy life, Abdi is able to make his community a safer and healthier place to live. As Abdi’s country continues to develop through his investments, more people choose to remain in his homeland instead of fleeing to find a better life. Additionally, the international community begins to view Uganda as a nice place to visit and some even choose to move there. As the country becomes even more stable, other nations see reason to invest and trade with Uganda. Through vaccinating Abdi, and children like him, GAVI’s vision of utilizing health as a way to build human developed is realized.
Through GAVI’s efforts, an additional 390 million children just like Abdi have been immunized in over 70 countries since the end of 2012.
– Caressa Kruth