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Shortfall for Gavi unless donors change their minds

Four-month-old Umesa, from Battagram in Pakstan, is given polio drops.
Four-month-old Umesa, from Battagram in Pakstan, is given polio drops.
(photo: Usman Ghani/Save the Children)

In one week’s time, ministers and top officials will gather in Berlin to announce funding for Gavi, the global vaccines agency. This public-private partnership is one way in which donors help low-income countries to expand their immunisation. I’ve blogged on it a number of times and I will write and tweet from Berlin next week.

However, one week before, Save the Children and a host of other agencies are sounding an alarm. We think there will be a $500m shortfall unless donors rapidly change their minds. The joint statement, released this morning, warns that Gavi will miss its total unless many of the donors rethink what they’re planning to give. You can read the full statement here.

We’ve played a role in helping to influence Gavi’s next strategy. This sets out a new focus on equity (fairness) of access to immunisation and increasing coverage. This is a change of focus from introducing new vaccines to a country.

It’s also clear that Gavi’s money should help to build comprehensive health systems that can tackle all health problems, not just immunise children and then disappear. People will value immunisation when it’s supplied alongside other urgently needed health services.

And finally, the strategy will try to do more to drive down the prices of vaccines so that countries can afford them in the long term. A new report today from MSF shows the importance of this goal.

None of this can happen without money. The target of raising $7.5 billion was always going to be ambitious – $4.3 billion was raised last time in 2011.

All the donors tell us how much they like Gavi’s model – it’s a dream for answering aid sceptics as vaccines are cheaper than treatments, the life-saving effects last a long time, and they can be counted and tracked easily. But it seems that, even though they love it and even though the amount is relatively small in global terms, many are not keen to put their money where their mouth is. In the last few days, this statement is an attempt to push them!


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