The Netherlands renews and increases its commitment to the GAVI Alliance

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The Hague, 31 October 2006 - The Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, Ms. Agnes van Ardenne, announced today that the Government of the Netherlands is significantly increasing its contribution to the GAVI Alliance. The GAVI Alliance was launched in 2000 to address inequities in access to immunisation and health in the world's poorest countries. One of the first donor nations to join the Alliance, the Netherlands committed € 70 million to GAVI in its first 5 years. The Dutch government is now pledging nearly € 100 million over the next 4 years for global vaccination and programmes to strengthen health systems through GAVI.

"We are grateful for this renewed and increased commitment by the Government of the Netherlands," said Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary of the GAVI Alliance. "GAVI and the Dutch Government share common objectives to drastically reduce child mortality and alleviate poverty in developing countries. This new financing will enable us to deliver new and underused vaccines to the children who need them most and build stronger health systems that will benefit immunisation efforts, but also support other critical health interventions."

Since 2000, GAVI and its partners have prevented more than 1.7 million early deaths by supporting the immunisation of children with new generation vaccines against deadly diseases in more than 70 developing countries.

"Key to this success has been GAVI's approach," said Lob-Levyt. "GAVI rewards results and supports partner countries to develop long term plans for reaching their immunisation goals."

"GAVI is an example of a dynamic public-private partnership, which produces tangible results with cost-effective investments," said the Dutch Development Minister, Agnes van Ardenne. "I am impressed by the additional 15 million children who have been reached with basic vaccines in 2000-2005, and the 115 million who have been immunised with new and underused vaccines. Furthermore, GAVI and its partners are stimulating industry to develop new vaccines for the poorest people by leading innovative efforts to finance the future purchase of these vaccines."

During a state visit to the Netherlands, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, Member of the Board of the GAVI Fund, applauded the Dutch government for its leadership role in development. "I am delighted that the Dutch Government, and in particular, Development Minister Agnes van Ardenne, are extending substantial financial support to the GAVI Alliance," she said. "Their compassion and commitment to saving the lives and improving the prospects of vulnerable children in some of the world's most disadvantaged areas is not only highly commendable, but serves as a reminder of how interdependent our global human family is. When we join together, we can create real and lasting change."

The Dutch Government and Minister van Ardenne are fully committed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and recognize GAVI's efforts as critical to achieving the MDG for child health. MDG4 calls for reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015. In addition, the Government of the Netherlands constantly strives to improve the quality and effectiveness of its development aid. This objective fits in well with GAVI's efforts to attain effective and sustainable development through country-driven programmes and a coordinated donor approach.

Noting a promising trend in the increased amounts of funding devoted to immunisation and health systems, Lob-Levyt nonetheless said that the needs remain pressing if the Millennium Development Goals are to be met. New sources of funding are crucial in order to continue reducing the death toll and providing equitable access to life-saving health care interventions for all children around the world.

Every day approximately 26,000 children die before reaching the age of 5. Often their deaths can be prevented by simple interventions such as immunisation. For many diseases, vaccines have been available for years, and children in western countries have long benefited from these life-saving shots. Unfortunately, many children in poor nations miss out on immunisation during their first years of life, leaving them vulnerable to infectious diseases both in childhood and during their productive adult years. Vaccines alone could save the lives of one-quarter of the more than 10 million children who die every year, most of them in poor nations.

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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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