One of the most impressive speakers I’ve had the pleasure of hearing is Seth Berkley.
Seth is CEO of the GAVI Alliance. The incredible life-saving machine known as “the GAVI model” has prevented over 5 1/2 million future deaths through the immunisation of 370* million children since 2000.
* – May 2012 projection
GAVI’s mission encompasses a bold, compassionate vision, effective strategies, education and commitment. GAVI has pulled together very specific dynamics of international development, finance organisations, donor governments, the pharmaceutical industry, developing countries, WHO, UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank into a single “decision-making body”.
This uniquely complex approach allows the central part of the GAVI vision to be realised:
Saving children’s lives and protecting people’s health by increasing access to immunisation in poor countries
GAVI has every right to be proud that its model has permitted “a single-minded focus to the urgent task of closing three critical gaps in the provision of vaccines”:
- between children for whom immunisation is a given and the 19 million children worldwide with no access to vaccines;
- between the introduction of a new vaccine in rich countries and the average 10-15 years required for the same vaccine to reach low-income countries;
- between the need for new vaccines in developing countries and the lack of research and funds to provide them.
In 2009 UNICEF reported that more children are being immunised than ever before and this is “directly attributable” to the success of the GAVI model. With the support of GAVI, 18 developing nations had begun to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine by mid-2012. Better still this vaccine will soon be part of routine programmes in half of GAVI-eligible countries. Pneumonia is the cause of 18% of child deaths in developing nations.
Another 18% of deaths in children is due to diarrhoea, primarily caused by rotavirus. By the end of last year 20 GAVI-eligible countries had been approved for support in implementing vaccines against rotavirus. It’s wonderful that by the end of last month Sudan was joined by Rwanda, Malawi and Ghana as the first African nations to see GAVI help roll out rotavirus vaccines.
Consider for a moment, Ghana. The first GAVI supported country to introduce both rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines together, Ghana can now directly address and prevent the cause of 36% of childhood fatality.
GAVI have excelled in meeting demand. In the middle of 2011 more applications than ever before were made to GAVI for both new and underused vaccines. Late last year two thirds of GAVI programmes met demand for both rotavirus vaccine (representing a nine fold increase) and pneumococcal (representing a doubling of demand). The diagram below indicates how GAVI commits funds to specific purposes.
Meanwhile in the developed world we continue to enjoy the luxury of faux “vaccine injuries” and other hoax reasons proffered as cause to deny children immunisation. This itself is an indicator of, and direct result from, the success of mass immunisation. Vaccine induced immunity and herd immunity protecting the unvaccinated, remains out of reach in poorer nations wherein one child dies from a vaccine preventable disease every 20 seconds.
Where vaccination regimes have been successful such tragic suffering is forgotten. Indeed, subtracting the impact of vaccine denial, there’s virtually no evidence of it in our midst. But this does not mean we may have cause for complacency – no matter how strong both specific and herd immunity might be. Influenza pandemics remain a serious threat to humanity. It’s been estimated that the likelihood of such a Massively Fatal Discontinuity, able to kill up to 100 million people in the next 50 years, is 100%.
Back in February 2010 Seth Berkley looked at the importance of vaccines to human health, and our survival.
HIV and flu — the vaccine strategy (TED Talks)
Source – GAVI