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Behind the curtain of… global immunisation

Behind the curtain of… global immunisation

Gulf Business speaks to Seth Berkley, the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Can you tell us more about immunisation programmes?

Immunisation is one of the most cost-effective investments a country can make for its people. Vaccines have a long-term positive impact beyond health outcomes. They not only save lives and protect everybody’s health but children, when vaccinated, attend school more regularly, have better cognitive development, perform better at school and grow up to earn higher wages. The economic benefits of immunisation are very high.

What are the main challenges when providing immunisation?

Reaching children in developing countries requires us to overcome a number of critical barriers that have slowed progress. These can range from the price of vaccines and weak health systems in countries to raising awareness of the benefits of immunisation and the logistical challenges to reach children in remote areas.

How much of financial support does the Gulf Cooperation Council provide towards such programmes?

Gavi, the global vaccine alliance received $73.1m in pledges and contributions from GCC countries in total so far, which is 0.3 per cent of our overall funding and pledges, since inception through 2020 as of March 31, 2015.

• Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi: $33m (2011-15) for Afghanistan
• OPEC Fund: $1m (2013) for Yemen
• Majid Al Futtaim: $125,000 (2013)
• Saudi Arabia: $25m (2016-20) for Yemen
• Qatar: $1m (2016-20)
• Oman: $3m (2016-20)
• Alwaleed Philanthropies: $1m (2016-20) for Timor Leste, Kiribati, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Guyana
• Gulf Youth Alliance: $165,000 (2016-20)

Looking ahead, do you expect to see greater support from governments, corporations and individuals?

Critical to the Gavi model is co-financing from countries. To subsidise the costs for the poor, we expect continued support from government and the private sector.

This year, the organisation was able to mobilise $7.5bn in additional investments for the 2016–2020 period. This will enable Gavi-supported countries to immunise a further 300 million children, resulting in five to six million lives being saved.

It will also unlock economic benefits of between $80- $100bn for developing countries through productivity gains and savings in treatment and transportation costs and caretaker wages.

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