UK’s £1 billion pledge on life-saving vaccines: now others must follow

Yesterday, I went to a meeting where Justine Greening MP, the International Development Secretary of State, announced that the UK Government will contribute up to £1 billion to Gavi, the global alliance promoting vaccination in low-income countries. This will mean UK money helping to save 1.4 million children’s lives.

Gavi was set up around the time of the Millennium Development Goals to try to boost use of vaccines in low-income countries. Its results are impressive, and it has a lot of support from donors because its model is tied to clear results. Every few years, it gets its donors together to raise the funds for the next strategy. The last time was in 2011 and the UK government hosted as well as contributing the largest amount.

Five-month-old son Muhsin is vaccinated at a health centre in north east Kenya.
Five-month-old son Muhsin is vaccinated at a health centre in north east Kenya.
(photo: Bert Wander/Save the Children)

Save the Children has worked hard, with others, to influence the next Gavi strategy. We’re delighted that it will prioritise those children who are hardest to reach – the fifth of all children who receive no vaccines at all. Gavi has sometimes appeared more interested in getting new vaccines added into countries’ lists rather than expanding basic vaccines to neglected communities and this is a major change.

We’re also delighted that the new strategy wants to help build comprehensive health services. Ebola proves that work on a particular topic has a duty to help build comprehensive health services, ones that can tackle any problem, not just what the international donor community is interested in. Gavi should have results that are beyond just immunisation coverage.

The UK played a key role in setting up Gavi, especially in creating innovative financing methods which have provided a lot of Gavi’s funding. Although charities, including Save the Children, collectively asked for £1.2 billion from the UK, this announcement means the UK will almost definitely continue to be the largest funder of Gavi.

Justine Greening said that she intends the UK contribution to be no more than 26% of the total raised when the replenishment ends in a meeting in Germany on 27 January 2015. This puts pressure on many other governments that give less than their economies suggest they could (see my colleague Luisa Hanna’s blog discussing the difficulties of working out fair shares).

Act now

You can help us with this by tweeting the German Chancellor’s spokesman now to ensure she pressurises all donors to live up to the UK’s generosity.


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  • The focus on the hardest to reach children is the right one, as the largest populations of children who die from pneumonia and diarrhea are clustered in often hard to reach areas of India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, China, Ethiopia, Angola, Indonesia and Bangladesh. It is only when Gavi’s most powerful vaccines – the Pentavalent, Pneumococcal and Rotavirus vaccines – reach these children that we will see the reductions in child deaths that are needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Moreover, when Gavi is able to deliver these vaccines in a way that makes local health systems stronger (public and private) and more able to deliver the information and other medicines that can both prevent and treat the leading threats to children’s health and survival, it will have truly demonstrated its impact as one of the leading forces in global health.

  • Clarisse Loé Loumou

    Thanks for highliting both
    – the necessity to fund GAVI, which is probably one of the key stools we have now to fight poverty through reducing health challenges,
    – the importance for GAVI to insure that the money committed by donors helps not also to achieve ALL the immunization challenges(reaching the difficult to reach) , but also to strenghten the health systems and facilities, key for the success of all the health strategies
    Thanks Simon

  • Indeed GAVI has proved even the the public UK rating is high…not only that the investments GAVI has made with new vaccines introduction has made Malawi to able to meet MDGs target on children health mortality reduction with GAVI Investment Malawi could not have manage to meet the target.Investing in GAVI is worth it as it has been proved to be a success than other interventions.

  • This is wonderful news, UK Government and its people again proved that it cares about immunization, the most cost-effective tool to save millions of children and people from vaccine preventable diseases. I just recall from my memory in May this year when I had the opportunity to talk with few MPs and Lords in the UK parliament and DFID staff as part of the Advocacy tour for GAVI Replenishment organised by RESULTS UK, and all I have seen was their huge commitment for GAVI’s mission. Like my other CSO colleagues who has commented above, I wish UK pledge becomes worthwhile not only for immunization, but for health as a whole and fighting other social determinants of health. I thank Simon, for sharing this good news which will be a good inspiration for other donors for GAVI.