Gavi the Vaccine Alliance succeeds with immunizations despite conflict, instability, and epidemics

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Since its launch in 2000, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance has helped save the lives of 10 million children and immunized 700 million children with new and generic vaccines against everything from measles to diarrhea to cervical cancer. More children worldwide are now immunized against killer diseases, but the task has become harder due to conflicts, epidemics, urbanization and migration, the head of a global vaccine group said. Gavi is funded by private philanthropies and government donors to negotiate down vaccine prices for poorer nations, buying them in bulk to supply countries most in need.

Chief Executive of Gavi Seth Berkley said the agency is now focusing on how to get vaccines to people in rural areas, those isolated by war and refugees. “Ninety percent of children in the world are now reached by routine immunizations, but there are 10 percent that aren’t. And there are more and more (disease) outbreaks around the world - partly because of climate change, partly because of instability - and we have the largest number of refugees in history,” he said, citing United Nations (U.N.) data showing there were now almost 70 million displaced people worldwide.

Gavi has traditionally worked with governments to raise routine vaccine coverage rates in poor countries and more recently has also worked on emergency projects, including getting oral cholera shots to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, stockpiling an experimental Ebola vaccine for use in an epidemic in Democratic Republic of Congo, and trying to help prevent infectious disease flare-ups in Syria. In Uganda, it is working with the delivery firms UPS and Freight in Time Ltd, and with Parsyl, a data start-up, to use customized apps, data and wireless temperature monitoring to overcome vaccine supply chain issues.