European Commission announces €10 million to provide life-saving vaccines

EU New funding to help immunize millions of people against preventable diseases will be pledged on Monday, 13 June, by Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs. Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs will represent the European Commission at ‘Saving Children’s Lives – the GAVI Alliance Pledging Conference for Immunisation’ in London. Donors from across the world will come together to make firm commitments to fund new vaccines in the world’s poorest countries.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) is seeking pledges of US$ 3.7 billion in total to help it meet its ambition to vaccinate nearly 250 million children over the next five years, saving close to 4 million lives.

What has the European Commission given for vaccines in the past?

The European Commission has pledged €20 million for GAVI between 2011-2013. This builds on its previous commitment of €220 million to support immunization programmes; €53.4 million of which was spent through the alliance.

What does the Commission spend on health generally?

The European Commission spends more than €500m million on health in developing countries every year. Much of this is direct support to effective health systems (human resources, medicines, vaccines) at country level, but this also includes the Commission’s support to the Global Health Initiatives like the Global Fund or GAVI.

Health is also indirectly supported through general budget support linked to health targets, as well as the Commission’s support to water and sanitation (and other areas that are relevant to health).

Thanks to European Commission funding:

  • More than five million children have been vaccinated against measles.
  • More than 4 million births were attended by health personnel
  • More than 5000 health centres and facilities have been built or renewed
  • 750 000 people with HIV have received antiretroviral combination therapy

Why is the conference taking place?

‘Saving Children’s Lives – GAVI Alliance Pledging Conference for Immunisation’ was set up to bring donors together from across the world to make firm commitments to fund new vaccines in the world’s poorest countries.

What is GAVI?

The GAVI Alliance is a public-private partnership committed to saving children’s lives through the use of vaccines. By the end of 2010, it is estimated that 300 million children across 72 countries will have been vaccinated thanks to GAVI support.

European Commission immunisation projects

Reducing Vaccine Preventable Diseases in Nigeria

The low immunisation coverage in Nigeria has led to an increase in the death of children before the age of 5 from diseases like measles. In Kebbi State in 2003, the situation was particularly bad – with a coverage rate of just 1.7 percent.

As a result, from 2003 the European Commission funded the EU-PRIME Project (Partnership to Reinforce Immunisation Efficiency) which aimed to support the government in improving the management of vaccination services, create awareness and build the capacity of health workers through training on immunisation.

The project achieved phenomenal results by the time it ended in June 2009; with coverage rates increasing from 1.7% to over 80 % (based on data from the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency of Nigeria). Over 6000 health workers have been trained and there has been a 97 % increase in health facilities carrying out immunisation.

Polio Eradication in 14 countries

In response to the high rates of polio in Africa, the European Commission took part in a joint Polio Eradication in 14 ACP Countries project with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Thanks in large part to funding from the European Commission (EC), almost 114 million children under the age of five years in the countries supported by this grant (Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and Togo), were vaccinated multiple times against polio between 1 January 2005 and 30 April 2007.

As a result of these efforts, Niger was successfully removed from the endemic country list. Efforts to stop endemic transmission in Nigeria continued and outbreak responses were held in Angola, Cameroon, Chad, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

Additionally, immunisation activities were also continued in key high-risk countries, in efforts to maintain high population immunity levels and minimize both the risk and consequences of potential polio cases. As a result of these efforts, the following countries maintained their polio-free status, following re-infections in 2003 and 2004: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo.

International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)

IAVI is an organisation whose purpose is to ensure the development of safe, effective and accessible HIV vaccines worldwide.

The Commission supported IAVI by funding the Partnerships for Preparedness Projects (PfP), whose main objective was to prepare sites and communities for clinical trials of HIV vaccines in Southern Africa – the sub-region which includes the countries hardest hit by HIV/AIDS in the world. In fact; two-thirds of the people living with HIV worldwide (25 million people), live in sub-Saharan Africa, the broader region of which Southern Africa is a part.

The PfP project helped to test more potential HIV vaccines in the region, by providing new facilities and through increased training – both of medical staff in the IAVI centres, and the people who enrol for the vaccines themselves.

Funding Clinical Trials of new TB vaccines in Africa

This project was set up to conduct important clinical trials of a new TB vaccine in Cape Town, South Africa, and Dakar, Senegal. It is helping to expand and improve facilities at the sites where the clinical trials take place, as well as putting in place systems for data monitoring and vaccine storage. It will also involve training members of staff in all aspects of clinical trials.

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