“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 is an important action towards achieving this goal.
Vaccine preventable diseases continue to kill 1.5 million children under the age of five every year.
- Diseases that are vaccine preventable are responsible for more than 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, to prevent 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 primarily due to vaccines, and the end of new cases is likely in the next 12 months.
In 2016, an estimated 5.65 million children died before reaching their fifth 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 access to 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 has supported immunisation of more than 600 million children, resulting in more than 8 million lives being saved by 2020.
Gavi has also accelerated the development of new vaccines, and made them available in many countries. For example, Gavi has supported introduction of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protecting against infections responsible for the majority of cancer of the cervix. Gavi aims to support vaccination of 30 million girls around the world against HPV by 2020.
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 the eradication campaign has demonstrated improvements to health delivery which will have benefits elsewhere in the health system.
Photo credit: Gavi