“It’s really hard to see a child struggling to breathe … It was hard to make eye contact with their mothers, who were looking on and stroking their children’s foreheads… Being in that room reinforced for me what a miracle vaccines can be. Pneumonia is such a terrible disease, but there is a new tool that can prevent many cases of it — and prevent them rather easily.” – Melinda Gates
Australia and all other United Nations members endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015.
Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-Being – includes the target to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age by 2030.
All countries are aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to 12 per 1,000 live births or lower and under-5 mortality to 25 per 1,000 live births or lower. Increasing immunisation will be an important action towards achieving this goal.
Vaccine preventable diseases kill 1.5 million children under the age of five every year.
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- Diseases that are vaccine preventable are responsible for 25% of child deaths – 1.5 million children – worldwide.
- Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, facilitates the purchase of low-cost vaccines by the poorest countries in the world, against some of the biggest killers of children.
- Since 1988, the global incidence of polio has been reduced by more than 99%, and the number of countries with endemic polio from 125 to 3. This has been entirely due to vaccines, and more investment is needed for the final push to complete eradication.
In 2015, an estimated 5.9 million children died before reaching their third birthday. Two of the leading causes of child mortality are pneumococcal pneumonia and rotavirus diarrhoea. Measles, one of the world’s most contagious diseases, still kills over 100,000 people each year.
RESULTS works with national and international partners to promote action to reduce the toll from vaccine-preventable infectious diseases, primarily by promoting low-priced and sustainably sourced vaccines through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and by strengthening health care systems.
Gavi partners with governments, donors, and technical parties to make affordable vaccines available to the poorest countries.
Gavi works with recipient governments to build political support for immunisation, and to increase and sustain the sharing of the cost of vaccines between Gavi and recipient countries. This is a great model for building national political will, ownership and accountability for better health.
Gavi will have immunised half a billion children by 2015, resulting in more than 7 million lives being saved by 2020.
Countries in our region that have chosen to co-invest with Gavi in vaccines include Indonesia, Lao PDR, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and Myanmar.
Gavi has also done incredible work to get new and under-used vaccines produced, and on to the ground. For example, Gavi has been a major advocate for the adoption of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protecting against infections responsible for the majority of cancer of the cervix. An astonishing 85% of cervical cancer cases occur in the developing world, so a vaccine is crucial.
Having negotiated the cost down from US$13 to US$4.50, Gavi is supporting the vaccine rollout to 21 countries, including the Solomon Islands and Laos. Over 30 million girls around the world will benefit from this life saving vaccine by the end of this decade.
RESULTS is also supporting the campaign to eradicate polio, with only two countries (Pakistan and Afghanistan) still having new polio infections. Eradicating polio will free resources in health systems to address other diseases, and would also involve improvements to health delivery which will have benefits elsewhere in the health system.
Photo credit: Gavi