When I first started working on vaccine advocacy in 2011 the situation was clear – most children in the world had no access to the vaccines that could save their lives. As a dedicated problem solver, I was proud to work for ACTION, a partnership of advocacy organizations mobilizing resources and shaping policies to ensure access to health for all.
Also in 2011, the GAVI Alliance, another problem-solving institution, issued a call for funding to help narrow the gap in vaccine access to ensure all children were protected against two leading killers of the world’s kids: pneumonia and diarrhea.
The price tag?
Mobilizing an additional USD 3.7 billion could ensure 250 million additional children received vaccines, and 4 million future deaths could be prevented.
GAVI, with the support of dedicated advocacy efforts around the world, surpassed this bold fundraising goal and garnered USD 4.3 billion in new commitments to save children’s lives. Excuses of financial crises and fiscal austerity couldn’t compete with the opportunity to immunize a quarter billion children.
But ACTION’s advocacy experience has shown that careful, persistent pressure is needed to ensure passionate speeches and bold pledges turn into political will and delivered funding. Between strengthening civil society advocates with the tools they need to advocate for vaccines, to working with leaders and decision makers to ensure the impact of the GAVI Alliance is known – ACTION partners have worked tirelessly to ensure pledges to the GAVI Alliance were converted into funding delivered.
To measure our progress, ACTION created a Donor Immunization Record in October 2013 to applaud donors who turned pledges into commitments, and to call out those who appear to be falling behind.
Now it’s time for a check up.
Today marks the second day of World Immunization Week, with the global vaccines community rallying around the theme “Are you up to date?” To check if donors are up-to-date on their commitments to the GAVI Alliance, we’re launching an update of this record.
GAVI relies on long term funding agreements with donors to effectively reduce vaccine prices and ensure countries have access to new vaccines on a sustainable basis.
The updated record shows a promising picture. The vast majority of donors are on track to deliver on promises made in 2011, and a few – including Canada, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, and the United States – have topped up their initial pledges with additional support.
But we can’t let this rosy picture obscure worrying trends in countries like France – where it looks unlikely that the government will fulfill 22% of its commitment due to budget cuts to foreign aid. And countries like Australia, Japan, and Denmark that made commitments ending in 2013 should extend their pledges to the full period until 2015.
As ACTION works to fulfill commitments for GAVI’s work through 2015, countries applying for GAVI-supported vaccines are now generating demand for GAVI’s next phase from 2016-2020. Fulfilling current commitments and extending them to the next phase of GAVI’s work will ensure steady access to vaccines, and support countries to shift from introducing new vaccines, to ensuring all children are reached.
This World Immunization Week I’m happy to say that more children than ever have access to vaccines that could save their lives. But one in five children around the world still can’t access even the most basic vaccines.
Continuing our pressure on decision makers around the world to fulfill their promises to the world’s children, and to make new commitments to continue our progress will be critical to ensuring every child is reached with the vaccines they need to lead a healthy and productive life.
Download our updated donor immunization record and find out the status of your country’s commitments to the world’s kids.