Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop with the CEO of Gavi, Seth Berkley

The world and Australia is grappling with how best to deal with Ebola, a disease for which there is neither vaccine nor cure. So today’s announcement by Julie Bishop of $50 million to protect poor children at risk from killer diseases with known vaccines, but which still kill 1.5 million children each year, was welcomed by anti-poverty organisation RESULTS International (Australia).

This new aid commitment will extend Australia’s current investment in Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a global public private partnership that since 2000 has immunised nearly half a billion children and saved 6 million lives.

The $50 million pledged today brings Australia’s current five-year commitment to a total of $250 million. Gavi is now looking to secure an additional $7.5 billion over 5 years to 2020 when international donors come together at its replenishment conference in Germany next January.

“This contribution by Australia is very encouraging. However attention is already turning to how Gavi will fund its plan to immunise 300 million additional children by 2020. Australia will need to step up its commitment in order to maintain its role as a lead donor to Gavi promoting health and prosperity in this region,” said RESULTS CEO Ms Maree Nutt.

“RESULTS is therefore calling on the Australian government to pledge $100 million annually’” Ms Nutt continued.

Australia’s investment will procure vaccines and strengthen health systems in countries around the world and in our region, including Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Laos. Gavi’s support will bring direct benefits to the global economy worth $80 to $100 billion.

“For every $1 invested by Australia into Gavi, over $8 has been invested in our region by Gavi. Our support to date has allowed at least 16 million children to be vaccinated. That kind of scale is something we could never do on our own”, Ms Nutt said.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, can also play a crucial role in global health security.

Researchers are working to develop a vaccine against Ebola as quickly as possible. Gavi is well placed and developing options to scale production, secure markets and work with governments to distribute an Ebola vaccine around the world once it becomes available.