Canada provides record support for global immunization

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Donation is the largest one-year government commitment to GAVI

Geneva, 23 February 2005- The Canadian government today announced a donation of CAD $160 million (US $130 million) to scale up the work of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). The donation represents the largest one-year commitment ever made by a government to the Alliance.

"We are enormously grateful to Canada for this generous contribution. As one of the founding members of the GAVI Board, their continued leadership in global immunization efforts has made a tremendous difference," said Dr. Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary of GAVI and Chief Executive Officer of The Vaccine Fund. "This support will strengthen GAVI's efforts to deliver vaccines to those who need them most - children in the world's poorest countries."

GAVI was launched in 2000 to address the needs for vaccines and to strengthen health and immunization systems in the world's poorest countries. During the past five years, GAVI has committed more than US$1 billion to immunize children in over 70 countries. These programmes have helped prevent more than 670,000 premature deaths by improving access to basic children's vaccines, accelerating the development and introduction of new vaccines, and building the capacity of low-income countries to radically improve immunization coverage.

"A brighter future for the world's poorest nations starts with healthy children," said the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Canada's Minister of Finance. "The increased GAVI funding announced in Budget 2005-along with a five-year, $3.4 billion increase in international assistance, further debt relief support for developing nations and additional funds for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative-is part of Canada's ongoing commitment to meet the responsibilities beyond our borders."

"Canada is a recognized leader in immunization programmes, and we are deeply committed to protecting children's health. When you look at the very real results these programmes achieve - the hundreds of thousands of children who are saved every year by averting and preventing disease - you know that we are making a real difference in the lives of the world's children," said the Honourable Aileen Carroll, Canada's Minister of International Cooperation." Since 2001, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has committed CAD $200 million to GAVI for immunization programmes in low-income countries.

Over 27 million children in the developing world were not immunized in 2003. About 10 million of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently 65% of GAVI resources go to these countries.

"I am thankful for Canada's substantial contribution to immunization. This, along with other recent substantial contributions will enable us to vaccinate many more of these unreached kids and give them the healthy start in life they are entitled to," said Dr LEE Jong-Wook, Director-General, World Health Organization and Chairman of the Board of GAVI.

In 2002, 2.1 million people died from vaccine-preventable diseases. WHO estimates that US$8-12 billion will be needed from both donor and developing country governments from 2005-15 to immunize children in the poorest countries with vaccines available today; more will be needed to introduce new vaccines now in the development pipeline.

The Canadian contribution comes on the heels of two other major funding commitments to the Alliance. In January, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a grant of US$750 million over 10 years-one of the largest grants in the Foundation's history-to support the work of the Alliance and the Norwegian Parliament announced another US$290 million over five years.

In addition, the United Kingdom has proposed to pledge as much as US$1.8 billion over the next 15 years if its innovative financing plan is approved. This financing plan, called the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm), would provide a new way of financing immunization programmes in the world's poorest countries by leveraging money from the capital markets.

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