EUROPE/SWITZERLAND - Six of the world's poorest nations recognised for their advanced contributions to the “co-financing” of vaccines, and for putting immunisation on the forefront of their development priorities

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Geneva (Fides Service) - The GAVI Alliance and the World Health Organisation announced today that the governments of Guyana, Ghana, and four of Africa’s poorest nations, Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia, have begun to help pay the cost of providing new vaccines to their children. And they have done so more than a year before the Alliance would have required it as part of a new funding cycle. For their advanced contributions to the “co-financing” of vaccines, and for putting immunisation on the forefront of their development priorities, the five African countries and the South American nation of Guyana will be recognised during a special ceremony in the course of the World Health Assembly, currently meeting in Geneva.
GAVI Executive Secretary Julian Lob-Levyt congratulated representatives of the six nations on their contributions, noting that the Alliance is now encouraging countries to prepare for progressive national ownership of vaccination programmes. Four of the six nations to be honoured today are among the “least-developed” countries, with a per capita income of less than US$1000 dollars a year and low levels of economic and social development.
. Today these six nations are demonstrating their foresight and leadership in immunisation financing.” Lob-Levyt said. “These countries should be recognized for placing a priority on long-term sustainability to ensure the health of future generations.”Lob-Levyt noted that countries such as Guyana, Ghana and Tanzania first started contributing to the cost of vaccines three to four years ago, then gradually increased their payments over time. .
“ “If something is free, no one really values it. The payment has helped to underline the value of immunisation at all levels, including the government,” said Dr. Randriamanalina Bakolalao, Manager of Madagascar’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation. Commenting on the co-financing scheme, she added: “This has helped understanding and ownership of the immunisation programme to increase dramatically.”.
Launched in 2000 at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the GAVI Alliance includes among its partners developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialized and developing countries, research and technical agencies, NGOs, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is estimated that more than 2.3 million early deaths will have been prevented as a result of support by GAVI up to the end of 2006.
GAVI's efforts are critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goal on child health, which calls for reducing childhood mortality by two-thirds by 2015. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 16/5/2007 - Righe 31, Parole 424)