News / Health

GAVI on Track to Immunize One-Quarter Billion Children by 2015

FILE - GAVI chief Seth Berkley inoculates a child with a Rotavirus vaccine at the in the village of Nkyenoa, Ghana, April 27, 2012.
FILE - GAVI chief Seth Berkley inoculates a child with a Rotavirus vaccine at the in the village of Nkyenoa, Ghana, April 27, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Lisa Schlein
— The GAVI alliance - a public-private global health partnership previously known as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization - has announced it is on track to immunize a quarter of a billion children against killer diseases by 2015.  The organization said nearly four million children’s lives will be saved thanks to these additional vaccinations.

GAVI said it is reaching record numbers of children with life-saving vaccines.  It said more countries than ever are introducing new vaccines, averting many deaths and improving the health and wellbeing of millions of people.  
 
Pneumonia and diarrhea are the two biggest child killers in the world.  The price of the pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines, which protect against these illnesses, has gone down dramatically, making them affordable for children in developing countries. 
 
GAVI introduced pentavalent vaccines in 2001 with the aim of reaching all 73 GAVI-eligible countries by 2014.  These vaccines offer protection against five diseases - diptheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis, and haemophilus influenzae type b.
 
GAVI chief executive officer Seth Berkley said the widespread use of these vaccines in the poorer countries is an essential step towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the under-5 mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015.  He said pentavalent vaccines now are available in 72 of the 73 GAVI countries.
 
“The last country which will have this vaccine rolled out is Southern Sudan, which will be rolled out in the first quarter of next year.  Of course, Southern Sudan was not a country when GAVI began the roll-out of this vaccine, so this vaccine is now becoming the normal vaccine in the world and that is, for us, a big deal,”  said Berkley.

Closing the rich-poor gap

GAVI’s progress report also finds the immunization gap between rich and poor countries is closing.   For example, it noted in the Kilifi district of Kenya, the number of cases of pneumococcal disease has gone down from 38 to zero cases in the three years since the launch of the PCV (pneumococcal) vaccine.  It said similar effects have been obtained with the meningitis and haemophilus influenzae type b vaccines.
 
Despite these successes, Dr. Berkley said challenges remain in a number of fragile countries.  For example, he tells VOA some 22 million children are not being fully immunized against diptheria, pertussis and tetanus.  The largest number is in India, followed by Nigeria and Ethiopia. 
 
In these fragile countries, he said it is important to improve the reliability of supply chains, improve in-country data collection, and adopt tailored approaches toward immunization.
 
“So, instead of having the same mechanism for every country, we work with different countries in different ways. So, Afghanistan, for example, has made a decision that it would use non-governmental organizations to do most of its distribution.  So, the government then contracts out the work that GAVI does in the supply of vaccines…But, our goal at the end is to try and work with each country and help them.  During the recent disturbances in Mali, for example, we worked very hard to make sure that vaccines kept going during that period, and we were able to do that,” said Berkley. 
 
Berkley added that vaccines are widely recognized as one of the most-cost effective public health tools, providing the best possible protection against vaccine-preventable diseases.  He said that means every child must have access to all 11 of the vaccines the World Health Organization recommends.
 
GAVI said it will cost the agency $7.6 billion to immunize an additional quarter of a billion children by 2015.

You May Like

'Exceptionally Lucky' US Boy Survives Flight in Wheel Well

The boy was unconscious for most of the flight, and appeared to be unharmed after enduring the extremely cold temperatures and lack of oxygen More

US Anti-Corruption Law Snags Major Tech Company

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in December, 1977 More

Cameron Criticized for Calling UK 'Christian Country'

Letter from scientists, academics and writers says the prime minister is fostering division by repeatedly referring to England as a 'Christian country' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid