International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm) takes next steps toward saving millions of lives

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Directors named, Treasury Manager selected

GENEVA (21 February 2006) - The International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm), the new multinational fund that will leverage long-term commitments from rich governments to raise urgently needed financing for health programmes in poor countries, is close to implementation, the GAVI Alliance announced today.

After an international search, five individuals have been named by the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) to serve on the board of a charitable company that will be established to operate the IFFIm: Alan R. Gillespie, chair; Michèle Boccoz; John Cummins; Dayanath Jayasuriya; and Arunma Oteh. The five met last week in London.

"All of the members of the GAVI Alliance, especially health officials in the countries we support, are eagerly awaiting the IFFIm to become operational so they can get funding for their programmes", said Julian Lob-Levyt, executive secretary of the GAVI Alliance. "Today's announcement means that we are closer to being able to deliver that funding."

The objective of the IFFIm is to provide US$4 billion of financing for immunization over a period of ten years by raising capital against donor pledges made from 2006 to 2025. This "frontloading" approach will enable the GAVI Alliance to invest now in strengthening health systems and developing and introducing urgently-needed new vaccines to fulfill the Millennium Development Goal pertaining to child health.

The GAVI Alliance estimates that IFFIm funding will prevent the deaths of more than five million children from vaccine-preventable diseases over the next ten years. Millions more deaths will be prevented, beyond the 10 year timeframe of the initiative, through the lasting benefits of childhood immunization.

The IFFIm was announced in September 2005 in London when France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom committed to support and scale up the work of the GAVI Alliance over the next decade. Since then, Norway has also committed to help fund the IFFIm.

"With the IFFIm we will be able to save millions of children's lives and prevent immeasurable sickness and suffering", said Alan R. Gillespie, chair of the IFFIm company board. "In addition we have the opportunity to test an innovative financing structure that may transform the way international development is funded."

It was also announced that the World Bank will serve as Treasury Manager for the IFFIm. In that capacity, the World Bank will borrow funds in the capital markets on behalf of the IFFIm, manage its liquidity and hedging activities, and administer donor pledges and cash flows.

The Board members:

Michèle Boccoz, (French) Director of International Affairs for l'Institut Pasteur in Paris.

John Cummins, (British) Group Treasurer of the Standard Life Assurance Company in Edinburgh.

Alan R. Gillespie, (British) Chairman of the Ulster Bank Group in Belfast, a subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

Dayanath Jayasuriya, (Sri Lankan) Senior Partner of Asian Pathfinder Legal Consultancy. Dr. Jayasuriya has also served as Chairman of Sri Lanka's Securities and Exchange Commission and the Insurance Board of Sri Lanka.

Arunma Oteh, (Nigerian) Group Treasurer, African Development Bank Group (ADB), in Tunis. Ms Oteh is also the co-editor of the book, 'African Voices African Visions.'

The GAVI Alliance

An alliance of all the major stakeholders in immunization, the GAVI Alliance includes among its partners developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organisation (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 1.7 million early deaths will have been prevented as a result of support by GAVI up to the end of 2005.

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 .

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