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Saving children’s lives and protecting people’s health by increasing equitable use of vaccines in lower-income countries

Gavi: a 21st century development model
Gavi is an international organisation that was created in 2000 to improve access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, Gavi is the Vaccine Alliance, which brings together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to vaccines for children, wherever they live.

A new approach to a global problem
The Gavi story begins towards the end of the 20th century, when global immunisation efforts were beginning to plateau. Despite the promising progress of the previous two decades, by the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), there were still 30 million children living in poor countries who were not fully immunised. Coverage was stagnating and in some places even declining. And even though new life-saving vaccines were becoming available, beyond the original six EPI vaccines, virtually none were reaching children in developing countries, those who needed them most, because they were too expensive.

What was needed was an entirely new approach. So, with the help of a US$ 750 million five-year pledge from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in January 2000 the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) was created. A unique public-private partnership, Gavi was created to bring together the best of what key UN agencies, governments, the vaccine industry, private sector and civil society had to offer in order to improve childhood immunisation coverage in poor countries and to accelerate access to new vaccines.

This model was designed to leverage not just financial resources but expertise too, to help make vaccines more affordable, more available and their provision more sustainable, by working towards a point where developing countries can pay for them themselves. It was a 21st century development model for a new millennium and one which works, by 2018 reaching over 700 million children since its creation and preventing more than 10 million future deaths in the process. And that’s just the beginning. Gavi aims to reach 300 million children between 2016 and 2020, preventing 5-6 million deaths over the long term.