THE Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop announced today that the Australian Government will pledge AU$250 million over the next five years to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a global partnership which has immunised half a billion children and saved an estimated seven million lives.
The pledge means that Australia has committed to maintain its level of support to Gavi, whilst comparable donors, like Canada and Norway, have significantly increased their support.
Grassroots anti-poverty organisation, RESULTS International (Australia) has been advocating for AU$100 million a year on the basis that Gavi is a highly cost effective and life-saving use of our foreign aid budget.
“In the current context of a significantly reduced aid budget, Gavi escaping a reduction in funding is a welcome relief. There is no doubt that this funding will have significant impact however, Australia can and should do better,” CEO of RESULTS, Ms Maree Nutt, said.
“By only maintaining its level of funding, Australia’s contribution is falling short of grasping the historic opportunity to reach every child with vaccines,” she continued.
Since 2000, 440 million children in developing countries have been immunised with one or more Gavi vaccines. Gavi estimates that the number of lives saved by its immunisation programs now tops seven million.
At Gavi’s second replenishment conference, to be held in Berlin overnight, the Vaccine Alliance is seeking donor investments of US$ 7.5 billion over five years to deliver vaccines and immunisation to some of the poorest countries in the world during the period 2016 – 2020.
If this target is reached, Gavi will be able to help immunise an additional 300 million children, estimated to prevent six million deaths from diseases like measles, pneumonia, diarrhoea and polio.
“At a time when the Gavi system will be needed to respond to the urgently needed Ebola vaccine distribution, it seems the wrong time to be holding back on increasing funding for the partnership as a whole,” Ms Nutt said.