Great news from the Gavi Board

Great news from last week’s Gavi Board meeting where CSOs were appointed a seat on the Executive Committee! This is an important step towards fairer and more balanced representation in the vaccine alliance’s decision-making structures.

Civil society has continued to call for better representation in Gavi’s governance. Most recently more than a hundred CSOs and CSO platforms from across the globe called for action on this agenda.

Gavi has a critical mandate of increasing access to immunisation in poor countries, promoting equal access for all children. Representing the ultimate beneficiaries of Gavi support – the ‘voice’ of the community – it is therefore critical that civil society is fairly represented within the alliance and its governance. CSOs are a critical player in the Gavi Alliance and hugely important in supporting delivery of Gavi’s strategy. This will continue to grow with the key role that CSOs play in supporting immunisation and health services in hard-to-reach areas and in strengthening health systems, which are priority areas in the new 2016-2020 strategy.

A very welcome step, but not the final one

Last week’s news was therefore a very positive and welcome step in the right direction. The Executive Committee has the authority to make decisions on behalf of the Board when an urgent decision is required between scheduled Board meetings, so it is great that civil society will now be part of this.

However, there is still work to be done to improve representation in all governance structures, in particular the Board – Gavi’s main decision-making power, responsible for setting policy, overseeing and monitoring implementation of operations, and for providing overall strategic direction.

Nearly 130 CSOs globally have called for an independent review of the current Board composition and for, at a minimum, an additional seat for CSOs on the Board. This is unfinished business that needs to be addressed.

Building on Gavi’s positive decision last week, the momentum must continue to drive this agenda forward.