NEW YORK/LECCE, ITALY, 12 JUNE 2009 – A new strategy in the fight against pneumonia, the world’s greatest killer of children, was announced today in Lecce, Italy. Global health partners gathered to sign an innovative new financing agreement called the Advance Market Commitment (AMC), designed to accelerate access to life-saving new vaccines and medicines in developing countries.
The first AMC to be implemented will focus on vaccines against pneumococcal diseases, which kill an estimated 800,000 children under five each year, with more than 90 per cent of these deaths occurring in developing countries. Pneumococcus is also the leading cause of pneumonia, which is implicated in 17 per cent of deaths of children under five, making it deadlier to young children than AIDS, measles and malaria combined.
“The introduction of pneumococcal vaccine in developing countries has the potential to give us the kind of dramatic progress we desperately need in the fight to reduce under-five mortality globally,” said Peter Salama, UNICEF’s Chief of Health. “But we have to go even further and take this opportunity to revitalize the whole package of services necessary to tackling pneumonia, such as providing treatment with antibiotics at the community level, ensuring high coverage of other vaccines such as Hib and measles, and promoting breastfeeding and hand-washing with soap.”
The AMC will use funds committed by donors to guarantee the price of yet-to-be-developed vaccines, providing manufacturers with more certain market conditions and the incentive to make the considerable investment required to develop new vaccines in the quantities required by developing countries. The goal is to create a self-sustaining marketplace with affordable prices for eligible countries, who in turn will receive support from the GAVI Alliance to purchase the new vaccines.
“Vaccines are critical to saving children’s lives but developing them is expensive and often market conditions can make developing new vaccines unattractive for suppliers,” said Shanelle Hall, Director of UNICEF’s Supply Division. “The AMC has been designed to take some of the risk out of the process by supporting market development and providing a level of security for a product before it even exists.”
Over the last 18 months, the GAVI Alliance, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the World Bank have been working alongside donors to ensure that the financing, legal and operational instruments serve the AMC objectives.
UNICEF will be responsible for the procurement and international distribution of the new vaccines as they become available, and will be supporting governments at country level to help ensure the vaccines reach the children.
The AMC model will also have future applicability for the development of other new vaccines and commodities to help fight childhood diseases.
Finance Ministers from Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia, and Norway, and representatives from the GAVI Alliance, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the World Bank, were on hand for the official signing of the AMC.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.