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Former Chairman and CEO of MTV Networks International, GAVI Envoy
People throughout the UK have come together in an extraordinary way in recent weeks for a cause greater than themselves. They literally are helping to repair the world through an extraordinary charity, Comic Relief, and its inspiring Sport Relief fundraising campaign.
The efforts of hundreds of thousands in the UK, from stars such as Miranda Hart and John Bishop to everyday people, are making a huge difference.
One of the issues Sport Relief is focusing on this year is child immunisation. I personally have seen in health clinics and villages throughout Africa the impact of these efforts. For just a few pounds, vaccines not only provide protection and save lives, but they also cut healthcare and treatment costs, help reduce poverty, boost local economies and contribute to political stability.
It's a small investment that reaps huge benefits as children grow to be healthy and live a productive life. Yet one in five children still don't have access to this life-saving protection and sadly every 20 seconds a child dies from a disease that could have been prevented with a vaccine.
This is why the funds raised through Sport Relief are so important. Another critical player in this effort is the private sector. Increasingly we are seeing that global health also means economic health and that vaccines produce a huge return on investment.
One of the recipients of this year's Sport Relief campaign is the GAVI Alliance, a cutting-edge international non-profit that has helped immunise 326 million children in more than 70 countries since it was founded in 2000. The support of GAVI and its partners has helped save more than 5.5 million lives.
GAVI has recently launched an innovative private sector programme that will make the Sport Relief campaign even more impactful. The GAVI Matching Fund welcomes contributions from companies, foundations, their customers, employees and business partners which are than 100% matched by the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - a longstanding partner of Comic Relief.
This means that Comic Relief is able to make a £5 million grant toward child immunisation through GAVI, with £2.5 million raised through Sport Relief and £2.5 million matched by the Gates Foundation.
This combination of non-profit and private sector support led by the British public's extraordinary support to Comic Relief and the GAVI Matching Fund is quite an impactful way of addressing global health challenges.
The expansion of public and private efforts - especially in wealthy countries like the U.S - would mean that critical goals are reachable, such as GAVI's goal of immunising an additional 225 million children and saving 4 million lives by 2015. But it also would mean that entire villages, communities and nations can begin to engage more profitably in the global economy, standing strong thanks to a handful of effective and affordable vaccines.
Many private sector champions already have joined the efforts of U.K. charities such as Comic Relief, the ARK Foundation and the Children's Investment Fund Foundation as well as global multinationals - J.P. Morgan, Anglo American and "la Caixa". I look forward for others to do also.
They are proving that doing social good is also good business.
This blog features on the Huffington Post.
Martha lives in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. As a mother and grandmother, she is a main caretaker of her family. Martha has cervical cancer.
It will probably kill her if the cobalt radiation therapy does not do more harm to her fragile body.
Martha is probably one of the lucky ones. She was diagnosed in time and is being treated. Most poor women like her die simply because they do not have access to screening or treatment.
Cervical cancer usually kills women in their 40s or 50s – in the prime of their lives. And when it strikes, its impact goes beyond one woman’s death.In poorer countries, it also usually deprives children and families of the primary bread winner and caretaker. When a mother falls sick and dies, the lives and health of her own children are jeopardised and her entire family can collapse.
An innovative solution exists. Safe and effective human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines can prevent 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. HPV vaccines have been a part of routine immunisation for girls in many industrialised countries since 2007. But high vaccine prices and delivery challenges of reaching adolescent girls have been major obstacles to introducing the vaccines into poorer countries.
Good news. GAVI Alliance, a global health partnership that includes UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has prioritised the introduction of HPV vaccines in countries which need them the most. GAVI is working with manufacturers to reduce vaccine prices and to help countries deliver the vaccines cheaply and with other important interventions for girls.
In celebration of International Women’s Day 2012, Women Deliver chose GAVI’s HPV vaccine work as one of the “Top 50 technological innovations that are delivering for girls and women” worldwide.
GAVI’s steps toward delivering HPV vaccines holds enormous promise. By 2020, over 28 million girls can be protected from cervical cancer. Women like Martha – and their families -- will no longer have to suffer. Every girl in the developing world should be immunised against HPV. It can mean the difference between life and death.
This blog features on the Reuters Trust Law.
Vaccines have been touted by economists, health experts and world leaders alike as one of the best buys in public health, and they are one of the safest and most effective ways to save children's lives and protect entire communities from infectious diseases. A quick jab in the arm or drop in the mouth can provide a lifetime of protection against some of the deadliest threats we face.
With the tools at hand to prevent disease and help save millions of lives, why not do everything in our power to help? And in this economy, why not invest in a sure thing?
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI Alliance), which has helped immunize nearly 300 million children in more than 70 countries since it was founded in 2000, has just announced a major new initiative aimed at engaging private sector leaders: the GAVI Matching Fund.
Through this program, the British Government's Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide a 100% match of contributions to GAVI from corporations and foundations as well as their customers, members and employees. Together, DFID and the Gates Foundation have pledged $130 million to support this effort, which means there's the potential to generate $260 million for global childhood immunization efforts.
So, why GAVI, with so many good causes vying for support?
With a low overhead and an unprecedented track record of success, GAVI is a lean and results-focused Alliance that leverages the best of the public and private sectors for the common global good. Over the next four years alone, it is set to double the life-saving impact it had over the last decade -- but GAVI can't do it without our help.
One child dies every 20 seconds from pneumonia -- a disease that could have been prevented with a vaccine, and that's just unacceptable -- especially when you consider many of these deaths happen in countries that often don't even have the facilities needed to treat deadly infectious threats. Prevention is key and achievable, so let's make it happen.
After more than 30 years in the business world, I appreciate performance and any business would aspire to GAVI's return on investment. There's no doubt that doing social good is good business when done smartly. I commend the four entities that have already contributed to this project -- ARK, "la Caixa" Foundation, J.P. Morgan and AngloAmerican plc -- and I urge other CEOs to consider joining the effort together with their employees, customers and business partners.
Today, the world is too interconnected for corporate leaders not to think globally. Getting involved in such an initiative offers a chance to expand your reach, strengthen your brand, tap into new channels, and impress your staff and customers by doing social good with the best experts in the field. This is your chance to do something bigger than your brand, something lasting and life changing -- giving a shot at a healthy life to the poorest kids in the world.
With financial support, the GAVI Alliance can vaccinate 250 million children by 2015. With a sound investor offering to double your money, there's even more reason and urgency to act now.
Just think: A $3 million donation -- matched by DFID or the Gates Foundation -- would buy enough vaccines to immunize more than a half million children against pneumococcal disease in 2012 -- one of the main causes of death from pneumonia -- or nearly a million children against diarrhea caused by rotavirus. I can't think of a better return on investment.
So I ask you, why not invest in a sure thing, when a 100% match to your investment is guaranteed?
Bill Roedy is the former CEO of MTV Networks and a GAVI Alliance Envoy.
This blog features on the Huffington Post.
© GAVI Alliance 2013
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