South Africa Joins Seven Nations in Backing the IFFIm

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Innovative financing programme to boost funding for GAVI Alliance, scaling up health systems and immunisation to help meet Millennium Development Goals

GENEVA, 25 April 2006-The Government of South Africa announced today that it will contribute US$20 million over 20 years to the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm).

South Africa joins Brazil and six European nations-France, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom-in supporting this innovative financing programme, which is expected to dramatically reduce the number of children who die every year from vaccine-preventable diseases in the world's poorest nations.

By raising capital against donor pledges over a ten-year period (through 2015), the IFFIm will yield an estimated US$4 billion of financing for immunisation.  The new funds will support the work of the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation), a leading global health partnership that includes developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

GAVI and its partners will use the new funding from the IFFIm to scale up efforts to provide millions more of the world's poorest children with access to life-saving vaccines, including through the strengthening of health systems.

The President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, announced in March that Brazil would contribute US$20 million over 20 years to support the IFFIm.  The IFFIm is one of several recently announced innovative initiatives aimed at raising funds to reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

With GAVI's support, a number of countries have improved their immunisation coverage rates and successfully introduced new vaccines, despite sometimes daunting economic and political obstacles.  While GAVI funds can only be used for certain purposes, developing countries determine and drive their own plans for reaching their immunisation goals.

"Our experience suggests that development assistance can be particularly effective when we reward results, while at the same time providing flexibility in how the eligible countries reach established goals," said Dr. Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary of the GAVI Alliance.  "And because the countries are delivering good results, donors have chosen to help GAVI scale up its activities through support for the IFFIm or through traditional annual contributions."

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.7 million early deaths will have been prevented among residents of the poorest nations with the support GAVI provided in its first five years.  Since 2001, the GAVI Alliance has made possible the purchase and distribution of enough doses of new-generation vaccines to immunise 115 million children. The WHO estimates that 225 million children will have been reached with these vaccines by the year 2008, protecting them against deadly diseases such as hepatitis b and yellow fever.

Dr. Lob-Levyt noted that the GAVI Alliance, in partnership with the World Bank, is also advising the G7 on developing a pilot for another financing programme - the Advance Market Commitments (AMCs).  The goal of the AMCs is to ensure that the poorest countries have access to new vaccines when they become available, while providing the industry with incentives to invest in vaccines for poor countries, thus creating markets that resemble those of more affluent nations.  An AMC for vaccines commits donors to subsidizing the future purchase (up to a pre-agreed price) of an appropriate vaccine, once it has been developed and once developing countries have requested it.

"There is an increasing awareness of the need for creative solutions in addressing the complex question of how best to cover the costs of developing and delivering new vaccines and other global health solutions," said Dr. Lob-Levyt.  "These efforts will be crucial in reducing the death toll and in helping to reach the Millennium Development Goal for child survival.  We are certain that the IFFIm is just the beginning."

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The GAVI Alliance

An alliance of all the major stakeholders in immunisation, 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 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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