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Alliance Seeks $7.4B to Immunize 300M Children

FILE - A child is vaccinated against Ebola in Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo, July 13, 2019.

Gavi, the global vaccine alliance that targets developing countries, said Friday that it was appealing for $7.4 billion to immunize 300 million children in 2021-25.

Gavi’s latest fundraising drive is its most ambitious to date. Officials said they expected huge returns from what would be the agency's most comprehensive and cost-effective preventive health package ever.

Gavi said the vaccines would protect against 18 diseases, saving up to 8 million lives. Spokeswoman Frederique Tissandier said sustainable investment was needed for the project because there still are 1.5 million people dying every year from vaccine-preventable diseases.

"The situation is increasingly fragile because of climate change, because of wars, because of the rise of the population in the urban slums,” she said. “So you have more and more epidemics that are spreading around."

Tissandier said Gavi planned to introduce new vaccines to prevent deadly diseases. For instance, she said, Gavi is ready to invest up to $150 million in a new Ebola vaccine stockpile once it is prequalified by the World Health Organization.

She told VOA that Gavi also would help the Democratic Republic of the Congo obtain the lifesaving vaccines it needs to immunize children against other killer diseases.

"We are going to fund, for instance, starting in September, measles campaigns in DRC to cover — I think the number is close to 18 million kids — to strengthen routine immunization, because we really focus on routine immunization,” Tissandier said. “We fund the stockpile against cholera, yellow fever or meningitis to respond to outbreaks."

She said support for the global polio eradication program remained a priority. Tissandier said Gavi would invest up to $800 million to accelerate the rollout of inactivated poliovirus vaccine. This would protect against a re-emergence of the disease in areas such as Africa, which is on the cusp of becoming polio-free, and other regions that already have achieved that status.