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Health News Wed, 20 May 2009

Twenty-seven developing countries contribute to vaccine costs

Accra, May 20, GNA -More of the world's poorest countries are proving their commitment to immunization by contributing towards the cost of life-saving vaccines, despite the world financial crisis, a Geneva-based public-private partnership organization, GAVI Alliance, said on Wednesday.

It said 26 countries now helped to finance the purchase of vaccines against common but life-threatening diseases, such as rotavirus, hepatitis B, Haemophilus Influenzae Type B, Tetanus and Pertussis, four times as many countries than in 2007. It stated in a statement received in Accra that in total, these co-payments amounted more than 17 million US dollars in 2008, or 15 per cent of the respective cost to GAVI.

It said: "Through its unique co-financing policy, GAVI encourages recipient governments to contribute between 10 and 30 US cents per dose, depending on their ability to pay." It said at a series of special award ceremonies taking place at this week's World Health Assembly in Geneva, the Alliance would recognize governments of 13 developing countries for their outstanding commitment to co-financing.

The countries are Ghana, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Madagascar, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia, Tanzania, Solomon Islands, Yemen and Bolivia.

"We are pleased and proud to recognize these countries for their extraordinary commitment to immunization," said Dr Julian Lob-Levyt, GAVI Alliance Chief Executive Officer. "They have demonstrated an impressive level of ownership which shows that GAVI's unique co-financing scheme is proving to be a successful model for development aid. Already a third of all GAVI's recipient countries co-finance now and we expect this number to continue to increase."

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It said one of the countries that would be recognized is Zambia, which received a similar award in 2007.

"Our government is very committed to child survival and particularly wants to ensure that the immunization programme is properly funded, maintained and sustained," said Dr Victor Mukonka, the Director of Public Health and Research at the Ministry of Health in Lusaka. GAVI's co-financing policy aims to strengthen country ownership and to help countries to work towards financial sustainability for their immunization programmes. Eventually all countries will be required to co-finance GAVI-supported vaccines according to their ability to pay and the number of different vaccines deployed, it added. The Alliance brings together developing countries and donor governments, the World Health Organisation, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialized and developing countries, research and technical agencies, NGOs, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists.

GAVI support consists of providing life-saving vaccines and strengthening health systems. Since 2000, over 200 million children have been vaccinated and 3.4 million premature deaths averted thanks to GAVI-funded programme. 20 May 09

Source: GNA