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Press Release

Africa receives first delivery of GAVI/Global Fund Vaccines

Bill Gates Senior Helps Deliver Life-saving Vaccines to Mozambique

Maputo, Mozambique 6 April – In a major step towards saving the lives of millions of children around the world, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization and the Global Fund for Children's Vaccines began the first round of a global schedule of vaccine delivery, to Mozambique, the first to reach the African continent.

Bill Gates Sr., Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, joined Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, at Boane District Health Clinic, 45 kms from the capital city Maputo, to see infants being immunized with DTP-hepB vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and hepatitis B.

The World Bank press release
The World Health Organization press statement

Pilot programme

Following the official presentation of the new vaccines by Gates Sr. and Bellamy, President Chissano announced that Boane District would pilot immunization with the combination DTP-hepB vaccines until a nation-wide campaign begins in July. The pilot will set in motion a host of activities to revitalize the country's immunization programme including: training healthworkers about the new combination vaccine and correct use of safety devices, and how to communicate to a variety of audiences the importance of all infants receiving a full schedule of vaccinations.

The Mozambican Government received the first half of 1.3 million doses of DTP-hepB vaccines worth an estimated $1.5 million. An additional contribution of $462,000 to strengthen immunization services was also awarded.

"After a year of hard work, it is gratifying to see our actions begin to bear fruit as vaccines are delivered to countries and most importantly to children," said Gates, Sr. "Now we have to quickly expand to all areas of the world, so we can help save the lives of two million children every year with vaccines against preventable diseases."

More countries to receive vaccines

Since its launch at Davos in January 2000, one of the major achievements of GAVI and the Global Fund is a new vaccine procurement system. By guaranteeing long-term purchasing commitments, it enables manufacturers to produce vaccines at affordable prices. These vaccines were previously only available for children in industrialized countries. In this way, a viable market has been created combining new and old antigens, such as hepatitis B combined with DTP. Plans are currently underway to ship vaccines to 15 more countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Laos and eight other countries within Africa throughout 2001. A total of 74 of the world's poorest countries are expected to receive support from GAVI and The Global Fund.

Two million children die globally every year because they lack access to immunization. Measles – virtually unseen in rich countries today – kills nearly one million children annually. Complications caused by hepatitis B infection claim another million adult lives per year due to lack of childhood immunization against the disease. Studies in Mozambique show that approximately 20 percent of the adult population are chronically infected with hepatitis. The newly awarded contribution will help the country increase its effort to fight the disease.

Mozambique is one of 25 countries to secure support from GAVI and the Global Fund after a first review of country proposals. Government and health officials are committed to using the contribution to increase access to immunization countrywide. The arrival of the new vaccines together with financial support for immunization services is key to creating a sustainable service throughout the country.

"The Global Fund is delighted to be able to fund these life-saving vaccines for the children of Mozambique, and is happy to become a partner with this country in our shared effort to reduce vaccine preventable deaths," said Jacques Francois Martin, President of The Global Fund.

Vaccines, syringes and safety

In addition to the vaccines themselves, auto-disable syringes and safety boxes are also being provided. The auto-disable syringe includes a safety device that prevents its reuse. WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Assocations have adopted a global policy on injection safety calling for the use of auto-disposable syringes for all immunization by the end of 2003. In 2000, a significant number of the 10 to 15,000 new cases of hepatitis B in Mozambique resulted from unsafe injections -- world-wide there are between eight to 16 million new cases each year. From July 2001 onwards, Mozambique plans to fully integrate auto-disable syringes for all immunizations.

"Vaccine safety is just as important as the vaccines themselves," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. "Poor vaccination practices can lead to the spread of disease, rather than its prevention. Supporting countries to improve injection practices is part and parcel of GAVI's mission."

Mozambique has one of the highest rates of child mortality in the world with 146 out of 1000 children dying before their first birthday. Some 12.5 percent of Mozambican babies are born with low birth weight due to maternal malnutrition and 36 percent of all children under three years of age are stunted because of chronic malnutrition. Immunization rates are improving but still low with only 73 percent of children completing their vaccination schedule. The state of emergency caused by the floods in 2000 and 2001 has worsened the situation in the central and southern provinces, and increased the vulnerability of women and children to malnutrition and disease.


The Global Fund for Children's Vaccines, a new financing resource that was created in 1999, provides financial support directly to low-income countries to strengthen their immunization services and to purchase new and under-used vaccines.

The Global Fund received an initial $750 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and has since received support from governments and other donors. In the future, Global Fund resources may also be used to accelerate the development of vaccines for diseases responsible for significant mortality in developing countries, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and acute respiratory diseases. While the Global Fund has its own Board and management for fiduciary and fundraising responsibilities, decisions about programs to receive support will be made on the recommendation of GAVI.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) is a coalition of organizations formed in 1999 in response to stagnating global immunization rates and widening disparities in vaccine access among industrialized and developing countries. The GAVI partners include: national governments, the Gates Children's Vaccine Program at PATH, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations (IFPMA), research and public health institutions, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, UNICEF, the World Bank Group and the World Health Organization (WHO).

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For further information, press kits, film footage and photos please contact:

Yasmin Zaman, UNICEF Maputo on tel: (+258) 1 491 023 or mobile (+ 258) 82 316 539
Joseldo Massango, UNICEF Maputo on tel: (+258) 1 491 023 or mobile (+258) 82 317 906
Dr. Martinho Dgedge, Ministry of Health on tel: (+258) 1 421 738 or mobile (+258) 82 326 065
Annemarie Hou, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on tel: (+1) 206 709 3265 or mobile (+1) 206 619 4456
Liza Barrie, UNICEF New York on tel: (+1) 212 326 7593 or mobile (+1) 646 207 5178

Visit our website for more information about GAVI and The Global Fund: www.vaccinealliance.org