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Gavi Mid-Term Review celebrates achievements, confronts challenges

The much-anticipated Gavi Mid-Term Review (MTR) took place in Abu Dhabi, December 10–11, giving the ACTION Global Health Advocacy Partnership and other civil society organizations (CSOs) a chance to reflect on the performance of the Alliance, midway through its five year (January 2016 – December 2020) strategic plan.

While broadly acknowledging the successes and continued need for the work of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, CSOs targeted obvious gaps in progress toward delivering on the four main investment opportunity commitments made at the 2015 Berlin pledging conference:

  1. Immunize 300 million more children and save 5 to 6 million lives.
  2. Transition 20 countries out of Gavi support to fully fund their immunization programs.
  3. Ensure healthy vaccine markets with manufacturers supplying vaccines at affordable rates.
  4. Generate US$80–100 billion in economic benefits in Gavi-supported countries.

On the first commitment, Gavi noted in the MTR Report that from 2016 to 2017, it helped countries reach an additional 127 million children with one or more vaccine, helping to avert more than two and a half million deaths. The report acknowledges, however, that progress has stalled in fragile countries, forcing the Alliance to adopt new strategies to reach children in these areas, including “channeling most health system strengthening grants into a number of focus areas to improve coverage.”

ACTION Leadership Group member and executive director of RESULTS Canada, Chris Dendys, was among the speakers in the opening plenary titled “Powering the Gavi model in a changing world,” on the first day of the MTR.

“All children deserve all 11 WHO recommended vaccines, and it is appalling that only 7 percent of kids in Gavi-eligible countries receive their full course of recommended vaccines. For instance, about 40 percent, or almost eight million under-immunized children, live in conflict-prone countries. These children are the most exposed to disease outbreaks,” Dendys said.

ACTION Secretariat Senior Campaign Associate Veronica Brown said coverage and equity needs to improve as a matter of urgency for the good of all. “Stalling progress, falling immunization rates, and the fact that 1 in 10 children get no vaccines at all is unacceptable in 2018. As a partnership, we are all responsible for doing better for the kids who are currently left vulnerable.”

Brown added that emerging out of the MTR, there needs to be expanded efforts to better understand the cohort of children who are being missed and to support governments and CSOs in engaging underserved communities.

Vaccines are widely heralded within the health sector as the most cost-effective public health intervention to prevent the spread of diseases. However, worldwide, nearly 20 million infants did not receive any vaccinations in 2017, according to World Health Organization immunization data.

Grace Virtue, Ph.D., is senior communications advisor at the ACTION Secretariat.