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.
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

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Freedom of Press

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs