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Financial Times Examines How GAVI’s $2.6B Shortfall Might Affect New Vaccine Programs In Developing Countries

GAVI Alliance’s plan to introduce new vaccine projects in the developing world “is under threat amid the international economic downturn,” the Financial Times reports. “Subsidies to extend the use of vaccines against rubella, HPV to tackle cervical cancer, cholera and Japanese encephalitis in the developing world are among those likely to be cancelled or delayed, the head of the U.N.-backed” Alliance’s CEO Julian Lob-Levyt said, the newspaper writes.

The effects of GAVI’s budget shortfall – estimated to be $2.6 billion over the next five years – will be the topic of discussion during the group’s board meeting this week, according to the Financial Times. The article includes comments from an unnamed GAVI funder and an individual said to have “close knowledge of [GAVI's] operations.” The piece looks at decisions GAVI’s board has made, concerns about future funding from government donors and the potential effect of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $10 billion commitment for vaccine research, development and delivery made earlier this year (Jack, 6/15).

“Our donors have remained committed in 2009 despite the economic downturn because they clearly see the value of immunisation and health system strengthening. But we must do more. We urgently need an additional $2.6 billion to roll out these vaccines. If we do not, children will die in large numbers unnecessarily,” Lob-Levyt said in a GAVI Alliance press release, which marked the Day of the African Child as well as the release of GAVI’s 10th anniversary Progress Report (.pdf).

The release continues, “If fully funded, GAVI can help developing countries immunise more than 240 million children and prevent some four million deaths by 2015, including one million from pneumococcus and rotavirus, the two main causes of pneumonia and diarrhoea, respectively” (6/16).