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Inside Story

The fight for global immunisation

Can funding keep pace with the will to vaccinate every child worldwide?

Last Modified: 26 Apr 2013 11:25
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It is universally recognised as one of the most successful and cost effective health programmes in the world. Immunising children against a range of diseases that can cause serious illness, disability or death.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that immunisation prevents up to three million deaths every year, but it says an estimated 22 million children worldwide are missing out on basic vaccines.

And the children's charity UNICEF says 4,000 children will die every day and many more will fall ill from diseases that can be prevented from a simple vaccination.

Vaccines are absolutely needed … they save two to three million lives every year … there are 22 million children each year that are being missed by basic vaccination services, that’s one in every five children …we still have a long way to go.

Kate Elder, Doctors Without Borders

Now there are warnings of a world at the crossroads, when it comes to funding vaccination programmes. UNICEF says global efforts are levelling off as funding and political will - declines.
 
Also the international medical and humanitarian organisation, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), is concerned that the high price of new vaccines could prevent programmes from being carried out in the future.

MSF calculates that the cost of vaccinating a child has shot up by 2,700 percent since 2001. It says an estimated $57bn will be needed over the next decade to fund immunisation programmes.

But Andrew Witty, the chief executive of the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, said last month that drugs prices should fall in future, because of more efficient research and development.

"If you stop failing so often you massively reduce the cost of drug development ... it's why we are beginning to be able to price lower. It's entirely achievable that we can improve the efficiency of the industry and pass that forward in terms of reduced prices", he declared.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), is a public and private partnership, backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, launched in 2000 with the aim of increasing immunisation in the world's poorest countries.

GAVI works directly with vaccine manufacturers, the WHO, UNICEF; the World Bank, and individual countries. The Alliance says donors have committed around $8bn, and it has the potential to immunise an additional 245 million children by 2015.

So can funding keep pace with the will to vaccinate every child worldwide? And why are life-saving drugs not cheaper?

Inside Story, with presenter Shiulie Ghosh, discusses with guests: Kate Elder from Doctors Without Borders; Adel Mahmoud, a global health specialist at Princeton University, and former president of Merck Vaccines.

"The success of vaccination over the years has really been tremendous. Unfortunately, you see a lot more successes in the developed world .... We have effective vaccines. The challenge is global. We have a lot of good vaccines that can really manage and control a lot of the childhood infections. And some of them - in spite of the fact that they are cheap, they are available, they are accessible - are not being used properly for many many reasons .... We also have to look into what is  the role of the national leadership [in some developing countries]. Do they care about their children and their future as much as they care about arms?"

Adel Mahmoud, a global health specialist

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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