Strength in Numbers: Immunisation and nutrition

Two years on: Delivering on the promise of vaccines for all

Two years ago, donors came through with vital commitments to save millions of children’s lives through immunisation. Over £2.76 billion was pledged at the GAVI Alliance pledging conference to help immunise 250 million children and save nearly 4 million lives.

Save the Children has been monitoring those promises: our briefing last year reported that as of June 2012, all donors were on track to fulfil their commitments, while shedding light on areas requiring further action. But we must keep the pressure on to make sure all donors follow through and keep their promises. More recently, we have recognised further commitments made to GAVI’s Matching Fund.

Aid works

In addition to charting progress, the anniversary of such a ground-breaking summit is also a moment to recognise the vital importance of aid and the impact it has on saving children’s lives.

Immunisation is one of the most cost-effective and successful health investments for child survival, contributing significantly to reductions in child mortality across the globe. Commitments made at the GAVI Pledging Conference and the impact of this funding on children’s lives show just what can be achieved by aid.

New commitments on nutrition

This year, the anniversary of the GAVI Pledging conference falls just a few days after another breakthrough for child survival and development. At the high-level Hunger Summit that took place in London on 8 June, world leaders pledged over £2.7 billion in the fight against malnutrition, which will help save the lives of 1.7 million children.

This is yet another example of the vital importance of life-saving aid, and a historic moment in the fight against hunger.

The link between immunisation and nutrition

These two important moments focus on two closely linked issues, both vital for child survival.

A recent GAVI briefing highlights this bi-directional link between immunisation and nutrition. For example, an un-immunised child is at greater risk of vaccine-preventable disease, diseases which can then lead to difficulty in retaining essential nutrients, thus perpetuating malnutrition. Repeated episodes of illness can also lead to under-nutrition. On the other hand, a malnourished child is at greater risk of dying from infectious diseases.

Taking an integrated approach

The clear linkage between immunisation and nutrition militates for a comprehensive response. Moreover, taking an integrated approach can be a more efficient use of resources and has the potential to reach children with a broader range of essential services and interventions.

As we build on the momentum of key moments such as the 2011  GAVI Pledging Conference and the Hunger Summit, we must break down silos to promote a more comprehensive approach, so that all children have access to all the services and interventions they need for a fair chance at survival.

 

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