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Vaccines key to saving children's lives

© UNICEF India/2005/Johnston
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman attends the opening ceremony of the 3rd Partners' Meeting of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.

By Kun Li

NEW DELHI, India, 7-8 December 2005 – The world’s foremost experts in public health, vaccine manufacturers and policy makers have gathered in New Delhi 7-8 December for the 3rd Partners' Meeting of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, or GAVI. The meeting will focus on progress so far and challenges still ahead in immunizing the world's poorest children – and how best to develop and finance new vaccines.

The Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, opened the meeting. "This event represents an opportunity to talk about the progress made in reaching the 27 million children a year who still miss out on basic vaccines, as well as a chance to tell the world that there is hope for addressing other killer diseases with new vaccines that are now in the pipeline."

GAVI – an alliance of a broad variety of partners, including UNICEF and the World Health Organization – has helped some of the world's poorest nations introduce underused yet life-saving vaccines such as the hepatitis B vaccine.

© UNICEF India/2005/Johnston
Participants at the Partner’s Meeting included UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, Indian Health Minister Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, Bill and Melinda Gates, Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway.

During the 2-day gathering UNICEF and WHO are expected to present the funding requirements for and potential impact of immunization over the next 10 years. UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman will also assume the chairmanship of the GAVI Board as it enters a new phase of operation. In addition to introducing new vaccines into the poorest countries, this new phase of GAVI’s work will focus on improving immunization with the basic vaccines and integration of other life-saving interventions into immunization programmes.

“Through the GAVI alliance, all partners not only have a great opportunity to increase immunization coverage, but also to contribute to reductions in maternal and child mortality, in support of the Millennium Development Goals,” said Ms. Veneman.

Approximately 350-400 participants are present at the meeting, including Bill and Melinda Gates and Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg. To show his country’s support Prime Minister Stoltenberg pledged an increased funding of $75 million annually to the GAVI alliance through 2015.

"It is unnecessary and unacceptable that a child dies every three seconds; that more than 10 million children die every year. One third of these children can be saved by vaccines available today or in the very near future. This is why we invest in children's health through the GAVI Alliance," said Mr. Stoltenberg.

Delegates at the meeting will spend time discussing strategies to cover the long-term cost of financing vaccine coverage for children in poor countries, and what needs to be done to strengthen healthcare systems. Challenges and progresses made in the search for new vaccines – such as Japanese encephalitis and pneumococcal disease – will also be examined.




7 December 2005:
UNICEF correspondent Rob McBride reports on the 3rd Partners' Meeting of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, or GAVI.

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