Toronto: Despite an unprecedented increase in vaccine programs in developing countries, 1.5 million children die each year of vaccine-preventable diseases. One in five children worldwide does not receive a full course of even the most basic vaccines, which places them at risk. The efforts of the GAVI Alliance and its partners help ensure that children under the age of one have the basic foundation to enable a healthy transition to childhood.
Routine immunizations provided to children under the age of one include protection against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, tuberculosis, measles, polio, hepatitis B and influenza. Improving routine immunization coverage consists of focusing on improving health systems, ensuring supply of vaccines, cold chain and logistics. Sustaining high levels of routine immunizations coverage throughout the developing world is critical to eradicating diseases and preventing their resurgence.
As part of its ongoing efforts to promote maternal, newborn and child health, Canada has been supporting immunization through $325 million invested in the GAVI Alliance from 2011 to 2015, a $250 million commitment to support the Global Polio Eradication Initiative from 2013 to 2018, and a partnership with both UNICEF and Helen Keller International to implement Child Health Days, which are a platform to ensure routine immunization and nutrition interventions for children.
As part of Canada’s ongoing efforts to promote health in developing countries through life-saving immunizations, Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that Canada would be providing $500 million in new support toward life-saving vaccines for children around the world.
The support is being provided through the GAVI Alliance, a global health partnership representing stakeholders in immunization from both the private and public sectors. The primary goal of GAVI is to speed up the introduction of basic and inexpensive vaccines that were not previously available in developing countries. Through GAVI, governments in the 56 poorest countries (gross national income per capita of less than US$1,550) are eligible to apply for funding support for their immunization programs.
The support being announced today answers GAVI’s call to fund its 2016 to 2020 strategy with a view to enabling the global health partnership to meet its goal of immunizing an additional 300 million children against a variety of diseases and thus saving an estimated five to six million young lives.
In January 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will host the second GAVI Replenishment Conference as a key element of German Presidency of the G-7. This high-level event aims to mobilize USD$7.5 billion to implement GAVI’s 2016 to 2020 strategy. Today’s announcement of $500 million in support of this effort is meant to increase the momentum worldwide in the weeks leading up to the Conference.
The $500 million in support being announced today is part of the Forward Strategy and $3.5 billion commitment (2015 to 2020) announced by Prime Minister Harper on May 29, 2014, at the Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit in Toronto.
The Prime Minister also announced an additional $20 million to strengthen immunization programs for children in Central and West African La Francophonie countries. This additional contribution, which is also through GAVI, will accelerate the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine (to prevent diarrhea) and the pneumococcal vaccine in Francophone countries in Central and West Africa as well as enhance the engagement of local governments and improve tracking on immunization coverage. It is estimated that more than 890,000 children will receive the rotavirus vaccine and 320,000 children will receive the pneumococcal vaccine through this support.
The additional $20 million being announced today is part of $325 million that Canada committed to GAVI’s current strategy (2011 to 2015), and is part of the $2.85 billion commitment made under the Muskoka Initiative (2010 to 2015).