Bond investors speed up access to life saving vaccines

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Backed by six European nations, US$1 billion inaugural bond launch responds to yellow fever threat

Geneva, 31 May 2007 - The GAVI Alliance announced today it will distribute almost US$1 billion in funds in 2007, raised by the International Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) on capital markets to help poor nations prevent life-threatening diseases and strengthen their health systems. 

As G8 leaders prepare to review their commitments to poor nations, the GAVI announcement reveals the impact that innovative financing for development is having on access to life-saving vaccines for the world's poorest children, consistent with the commitments made at the 2005 G8 Gleneagles Summit.

Launched last year with backing from six European nations-France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Norway and the United Kingdom-the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) quickly sold US$1 billion in bonds, freeing up new funds for health protection and development. Most recently the GAVI Alliance put IFFIm monies to work in Togo, funding vaccines to prevent an outbreak of highly infectious yellow fever disease, which kills up to 50 percent of those with severe illness.

"The speed and efficiency with which GAVI and its partners responded to a yellow fever threat, supported by new funds from the IFFIm, made it possible to prevent this terrible disease from threatening our children," said Professor Kondi Charles Agba, Minister of Health of Togo. In 2007, IFFIm funds will also support immunisation campaigns against measles, polio, maternal and neonatal tetanus, as well as the introduction of a new "five-in-one" vaccine and strengthening of health services in poor nations.

An Italian official said Italy was delighted with reports of the rate at which the IFFIm funds were being put to work. "By scaling up GAVI's activities, we have a much greater chance of meeting our global commitments to dramatically reduce poverty in developing countries by 2015. We also are building on GAVI's experience to implement a second innovative financing mechanism for immunization, the Advanced Market Commitments, which was launched in Rome last February."

"The International Finance Facility for Immunisation is releasing unprecedented resources for childhood immunisation and health system strengthening," noted GAVI Executive Secretary Julian Lob-Levyt, in announcing the 2007 IFFIm funds distribution. "By speeding up access to life-saving technologies and services, IFFIm can play a vital role in helping to meet the UN Millennium Development Goal to reduce child mortality."

In the next 10 years, with the added support of South Africa, which joined as an IFFIm sponsor in March 2007, and other nations, including Brazil, IFFIm is expected to raise a total of $4 billion for health and immunisation programmes, by selling bonds in the international capital markets. The heavily oversubscribed issue of $1 billion in bonds, sold in November 2006, was IFFIm's inaugural bond. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and anti-poverty campaigners Bono and Bob Geldof were among IFFIm's first supporters.  The World Bank acts as Treasury Manager for IFFIm, including management of its finances and funding strategy and its implementation in the capital markets.

About the GAVI Alliance 

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 industrialised 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. Of the more than 10 million children who die before reaching their fifth birthday every year, 2.5 million die from diseases that could be prevented with currently available or new vaccines.

About the IFFIm 

The International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) priced its first ever capital markets financing in November 2006, raising US$1 billion from its inaugural bond issue. Over the next 10 years, IFFIm is expected to provide US$4 billion of financing for immunisation, by raising funds in the capital markets. IFFIm's finances consist of donor payments made from 2006 to 2025. This investment is expected to prevent 5 million child deaths between 2006-2015, and more than 5 million future adult deaths. ;IFFIm funds will support the work of the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization), a leading global health partnership that includes UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and representatives of the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries.

About the World Bank 

The World Bank is Treasury Manager for IFFIm.  The World Bank, as IFFIm's agent, manages IFFIm's finances according to prudent policies and standards. This includes IFFIm's funding strategy and its implementation in the capital markets, rating agency and investor outreach, hedging transactions and investment management. The World Bank also coordinates with IFFIm's donors and manages their pledges and payments, as well as IFFIm's disbursements for immunisation and health programmes through the GAVI Alliance.

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