News

GAVI rolls out vaccines against child killers to more countries

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d6217 (Published 28 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6217
  1. Peter Moszynski
  1. 1London

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI Alliance) has announced that it will provide funding for 16 developing countries to introduce rotavirus vaccines and for 18 to introduce pneumococcal vaccines.

The alliance says that this is “a major step towards protecting children against severe diarrhoea and pneumonia—the two leading child killers.”

Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhoea in children under 5 years of age, killing more than half a million children each year worldwide and causing illness in several million more.

The alliance says that nearly 50% of all deaths from rotavirus occur in African countries “where access to treatment for severe rotavirus diarrhoea is limited or unavailable.”

Pneumococcal disease causes pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis and also takes the lives of more than half a million children each year worldwide, mostly in Africa and Asia.

“Thanks to our donors and partners, the GAVI Alliance is now delivering on its promise to protect more children across the developing world against rotavirus, pneumococcal disease, and other life threatening yet preventable diseases,” said the alliance’s chief executive, Seth Berkley.

“The death toll of rotavirus and pneumococcal infections in Africa is particularly devastating,” he added, “and this is where these vaccines will make the most significant impact, not only in lives saved but also in terms of healthy lives lived.

“Immunisation enables good health, and healthy people are more productive and ultimately fuel economic growth.”

By 2015 the GAVI Alliance plans to support more than 40 of the world’s poorest countries in rolling out rotavirus vaccines and in vaccinating more than 50 million children. Sudan, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Guyana, and Honduras have already introduced rotavirus vaccines with the support of the alliance.

The alliance and its partners also plan to help more than 40 countries introduce pneumococcal vaccines and vaccinate more than 90 million children against pneumococcal disease by 2015.

Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, said, “The high number of approved applications for funding for new vaccines in this latest round is yet another milestone in the fight to prevent child deaths from vaccine preventable diseases.

“As demand for new vaccines increases further, WHO will continue providing critical support to countries for decision making on new vaccines, surveillance, and immunisation programme planning, training, and evaluation.”

Unicef’s director, Anthony Lake, said, “In rolling out these vaccines we need to focus especially on reaching the children at greatest risk, for it is among the most vulnerable that these vaccines can make the biggest difference, especially if they are combined with better nutrition, sanitation, and other critical interventions.”

Last week at the United Nations General Assembly Andrew Mitchell, the United Kingdom’s secretary of state for international development, highlighted the GAVI Alliance as a model global development partnership that is significantly helping advance the UN’s millennium development goals.

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6217

Footnotes