Health and Healthcare Systems

Saving lives through vaccinations

A child is given vitamin A drops during a house-to-house vaccination campaign in Sanaa, Yemen February 20, 2017.

A child is given vitamin A drops during a house-to-house vaccination campaign in Sanaa, Yemen Image: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

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Global Health

This is part of a series of articles exploring the role the World Economic Forum has played in supporting the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ahead of our Sustainable Development Impact Summit in New York. Goal 3 is good health and well-being.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has helped the world’s poorest countries prevent over 8 million deaths since its launch in 2000.

The challenge

Progress towards immunising all the world’s children ground to a halt in the 1990s. Other donor priorities took precedence, and there was little commercial incentive for pharmaceutical companies to provide vaccines to the developing world. By the year 2000, children in poorer countries were receiving just half the vaccines provided to children in the developed world. Nearly thirty million children were not fully immunized.

The strategy

Gavi launched at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in 2000 with the aid of a $750 million donation from the Gates Foundation. Its mission was a new approach to the vaccination challenge, based on the innovative Forum concept of multistakeholder cooperation.

Multistakeholder cooperation brings together diverse organizations so that together they can achieve impact that they could not achieve alone. In this way, Gavi brings together the best of what key UN agencies, governments, the vaccine industry, private sector and civil society can offer to improve childhood immunization coverage in poor countries and to accelerate access to new vaccines.

The aim is to make vaccines more affordable and available, and help developing countries reach the point where they can pay for and manage their own vaccination programmes.

The impact

Gavi has contributed to the immunization of nearly 580 million children, saving an estimated 8 million lives.

A 2016 study in Health Affairs found that for every $1 spent on immunization, $16 is saved in healthcare costs, and by avoiding lost wages and lost productivity due to illness.

Gavi is also achieving longer-term sustainability. Nine countries – Bhutan, Guyana, Honduras, Indonesia, Kiribati, Moldova, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Ukraine – have started to finance all the vaccines introduced through Gavi support.

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