Brazil announces support for global immunisation and IFFIm to save millions of world’s poorest children

Under President Lula's leadership, Brazil joins European nations in bid to use capital markets to raise funds for the GAVI Alliance


London, 9 March 2006 - The President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, announced today that Brazil will contribute US$20 million over 20 years to the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm). Brazil joins six European nations-France, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom-in committing funds to this innovative financing mechanism which will drastically reduce the number of poor children who die every year from vaccine-preventable diseases.

The IFFIm is expected to provide US$4 billion of financing for immunisation over a period of ten years by raising capital against donor pledges made from 2006 to 2025. This investment is expected to prevent 5 million child deaths between 2006-2015 and more than 5 million future adult deaths. The new funds will support the work of the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization), a leading global health partnership that includes UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and representatives of the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries.

"The new International Finance Facility for Immunisation has the capacity to save millions of lives that would otherwise be needlessly lost," said U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, in response to the Brazilian president's announcement during a state visit to the United Kingdom. "That is why I am delighted that President Lula has committed to support this innovative new financing mechanism today. President Lula has worked tirelessly on fighting international poverty for many years and I look forward to continuing to work closely with him towards the Millennium Development Goals."

"Brazil's contribution is particularly exciting," said Dr. Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary of the GAVI Alliance. "It illustrates a significant commitment on the part of one of the world's four major emerging economies to playing a growing role in addressing the problems of the poorest nations."

"We are grateful for Brazil's contribution to IFFIm," said Lob-Levyt. "We look forward, as well, to benefiting from Brazil's expertise as both a consumer and producer of vaccines. This nation has had great success in encouraging the growth of a vibrant national vaccine industry, and in carrying out nationwide efforts that immunise children in even the hardest-to-reach rural areas."

With new funding from IFFIm, GAVI will work with its partners to scale up their efforts, reaching millions more children with life-saving vaccines, while providing significant new support to strengthen health systems. The IFFIm will be overseen by a charity that will be headed by a volunteer five-member board.

"The design of this innovative financing mechanism is particularly exciting because it allows capital to flow directly from the markets to a place where it can have a tremendous impact on the lives of the world's poor," said Alan Gillespie, chairman of the Ulster Bank Group and chair of the IFFIm board. "Instead of losing excess liquidity in the capital markets to profit-making entities, we are harnessing some of it for development."

Since its launch in 2000, GAVI has demonstrated that development assistance is effective when funds are targeted and flexibility is built into the process. Countries eligible for GAVI support have seen improved immunisation coverage rates and have successfully introduced new vaccines.

"Key to this success has been GAVI's approach," said Lob-Levyt. "It rewards results, but allows recipient nations to develop their own plans for reaching their immunisation goals. Their success has in turn attracted the attention of donors."

"These increases in funding for immunisation through GAVI have been possible only because countries have delivered results," Lob-Levyt said. "Brazil's decision to participate in IFFIm, along with that of France, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, represents a vote of confidence, not only in GAVI, but in the 72 nations we have worked with in the last five years."

Dr. Ciro de Quadros, President and CEO of the Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute, in Washington, DC, and chairman of GAVI's Independent Review Committee, noted that Brazil is announcing its support for IFFIm the same week that it introduces one of two new rotavirus vaccines, a decision that demonstrates the nation's deep commitment to its own children.

"This year the government will immunise three million newborns against the disease that causes dehydrating diarrhoea and kills 500,000 children globally every year," de Quadros said.

The impact of global immunisation efforts is reflected in the more than 1.7 million early deaths that will have been prevented as a result of support by GAVI up to the end of 2005. Since 2001, the GAVI Alliance has supported the immunisation of 115 million children with new generation vaccines. The number of children reached with these vaccines-against deadly diseases such as hepatitis B and yellow fever-is expected to climb to 225 million by 2008, according to the WHO. The impact of the Alliance also has been felt in the vaccine industry.

As a large buyer of vaccines, GAVI has stimulated new and unprecedented market interest in producing vaccines. While a few years ago there was only one manufacturer of the combined Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis-Hepatitis B vaccine, for example, 11 companies have submitted bids to begin supplying the vaccine in 2006.

Lob-Levyt noted that the GAVI Alliance is playing a role in the development of another complementary potential investment in immunisation, one designed to create a financial incentive for the development of vaccines for diseases that primarily affect poor countries. In partnership with the World Bank, GAVI is advising the G7 on Advanced Market Commitments (AMCs), and how that pilot should be developed. The joint recommendations from GAVI and the World Bank will inform a decision by G7 at their Spring Meetings in April.

At the Paris Conference on Innovative Development Financing Mechanisms on 28 February, France and the UK also announced that contributions from airline ticket sales would be used to fund an International Finance Facility that would provide additional resources for health, including to raise funds to purchase drugs needed to fight pandemics, such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as for other sectors.

"Of the more than 10 million children who die before reaching their fifth birthday every year, 2.5 million die from diseases that could be prevented with currently available or new vaccines," Lob-Levyt said. "These innovative new ideas for how to cover the costs of developing and delivering new vaccines and other global health solutions will be crucial in reducing the death toll. We know that IFFIm is just the beginning."

The GAVI Alliance

An alliance of all the major stakeholders in immunisation, the GAVI Alliance includes among its partners developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, NGOs, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is estimated that more than 1.7 million early deaths will have been prevented as a result of support by GAVI up to the end of 2005.

GAVI's efforts are critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goal on child health, which calls for reducing childhood mortality by two-thirds by 2015. Of the more than 10 million children who die before reaching their fifth birthday every year, 2.5 million die from diseases that could be prevented with currently available or new vaccines.

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