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Media Outlets Examine GAVI’s Efforts To Bring Pneumonia, Rotavirus Vaccines To Developing Countries

Al Jazeera examines the toll pneumonia and diarrhea take on children living in developing countries and how the GAVI Alliance is working to help improve health outcomes among children through the distribution of pneumonia vaccines around the world.

“Pneumonia and diarrhoea kill more children under the age of five than any other illnesses, accounting for three times more deaths than malaria and HIV combined. Annually, 1.6 million children under five die of pneumonia and 1.3 million succumb to diarrhoeal diseases,” the news service notes.

The article tracks GAVI’s vaccine campaign roll-out, which will allow “infants in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Yemen and Guyana [to be] immunised against pneumonia through their public health service for the first time this year” (Kumar, 1/24). In Nicaragua, children have already begun receiving the pneumonia vaccine, BBC writes (Walsh, 1/23). GAVI hopes to soon begin a similar campaign with the rotavirus vaccine to combat diarrhea deaths, according to Al Jazeera.

The piece describes how the funding for the vaccines is made possible through “an innovative co-financing scheme,” where developing countries “share the cost of these vaccines starting at only a few cents, depending on their per capita income” and funds pooled by donors cover the rest. Such arrangements are possible, in part, because of an agreement known as an Advance Market Commitment (AMC), which encourages pharmaceutical companies to make and supply medicines and vaccines for developing countries who would normally be unable to afford them, Al Jazeera reports. 

Despite such arrangements, Al Jazeera describes how GAVI’s ability to provide vaccines for children in developing countries may be limited by a funding shortfall. “Out of $6.8bn earmarked for the global programme, only $3.1bn has been committed so far and this goal can only be achieved if GAVI is able to secure another $3.7bn,” according to the news service. “Out of over 45 countries which have been identified for the roll-out of pneumonia and diarrhoea vaccines, only 19 have had funding secured” (1/24).

Save The Children Looks At Vaccine Funding Gap; Pakistan Endorses Pneumoccocal Vaccine As Routine Immunization

Save the Children on Monday released a report (.pdf) highlighting the risks associated with the funding shortfall for global immunization programs and the gaps in health care services in developing countries, BBC reports in a separate article. The report calls attention to what the news service calls “a critical shortage of 3.5 million health workers in poor countries, without whom millions of children will face illness and early death” (1/24) and the “millions of children [who] miss out on immunizations each year,” according to a summary of Save the Children’s report (January 2011).

“Save the Children says it will be campaigning for rich nations to increase support for global immunisation, and for the pharmaceutical industry to lower the price of vaccines,” BBC continues. The article describes the current pricing for the pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines and plans for a GAVI meeting in June 2011, which is expected to be attended by world leaders (1/24).

In related news, the government of Pakistan last Friday endorsed a plan to introduce a pneumococcal vaccine into the routine immunization schedule this year, The News reports. “The cost of one vaccine comes to $7, of which only 15 cents per dose will have to be paid by Pakistan, with the remaining being catered by GAVI,” according to the news service.

The National Inter-agency Coordination Committee (NICC) also “endorsed that the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) should submit an application to the GAVI Secretariat for introduction of rotavirus vaccine by 2013 under the co-financing scheme,” The News writes. “The total vaccine cost for immunising each child with this new [rortavirus] vaccine is about $10. Pakistan will have to provide only $0.20 for each dose while the rest will be borne by GAVI (Maqbool, 1/22).

Baltimore Sun Reports On Johns Hopkins’ International Vaccine Access Center

The Baltimore Sun reports on the contributions the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at Johns Hopkins University is making towards “break[ing] down the economic and political red tape that prevents millions of children around the world from access to lifesaving vaccines that are widely available in the United States.”

“IVAC, which was launched in 2009 by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” works together with GAVI, the CDC, UNICEF, WHO, the World Bank, on efforts to stop pneumonia, “diarrhea, malaria, dengue fever and influenza,” according to the newspaper. The article describes the center’s involvement in the roll-out of the pneumonia vaccine campaign with GAVI in December as well as ongoing projects at the center to expand vaccine coverage using cell phones.

The piece includes quotes by Orin Levine, executive director of IVAC, and Joelle Tanguy, managing director for external relations at the GAVI Alliance (Williams, 1/21).