A Giant Step Toward a Healthier Future: Update from the Gavi Replenishment Conference

Joanne Carter, Executive Director
January 27, 2015

After months of tireless advocacy, the world just took a giant step toward saving five million lives and a future free from preventable child deaths.

World leaders are gathered here in Berlin today to invest in the work of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, supporting poor countries to provide lifesaving vaccines to all children, regardless of where they're born. Just a few hours ago, USAID Administrator Raj Shah announced an enormously important U.S. commitment of $1 billion dollars over four years to support Gavi. This is the extraordinary leadership pledge we pushed so hard to secure.

Along with other donor support, and developing countries' own investments, the U.S. pledge will enable Gavi to fulfill its strategy of supporting poor countries to reach 300 million children with immunization by the year 2020, which will save over 5 million lives and build countries' health system capacity.

This historic pledge to Gavi is the largest ever of its kind from the U.S., and emphasizes the enormous importance of equitable access to immunization toward achieving the global goal of ending preventable child deaths. And the impact goes even further: Administrator Shah stated this morning that the U.S. pledge to Gavi was a part of President Obama's unwavering commitment to the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

Your advocacy work to build support for Gavi over the past seven months was absolutely crucial to getting this commitment. U.S. support for Gavi at $1 billion over 4 years was in no way guaranteed. Right up until last week, the U.S. government was still deciding how much it would commit - with the option of flat-funding support for Gavi a real possibility.

The prior U.S. pledge was $450 million over three years, made in 2011 at Gavi's first replenishment conference. We knew it would be a big push to achieve $1 billion over four years this time. But the need was there, and your persistent voice, your smart advocacy with your members of Congress, and your constant drumbeat of media support pushed the point home: investing in Gavi is among the highest impact investments we can make to save lives and build country health system capacity.

Our campaign started with hundreds of congressional meetings you held at the RESULTS International Conference and over the August congressional recess, and a huge number of phone calls and messages to congressional offices. The result was over a fourth of Congress urging strong U.S. support for Gavi via letters to the administration, bipartisan resolutions, and other actions.

But, that was just the beginning; you also generated over 185 pieces of media and counting. That's at least 24 editorials, 30 op-eds, 13 news features, and 118 letters to the editor. You made the case that all children, regardless of where they are born, deserve access to vaccines and the chance to thrive. And that supporting countries to deliver these vaccines to every child is a crucial way to build an effective, responsive health system.

Many cities hosted international vaccines experts like Dr. Namala Mkopi of Tanzania or Dr. D.S. Akram of Pakistan, and others built new community partnerships with local American Academy of Pediatrics members and others. Your media from Santa Fe to Salt Lake, from Tampa to Trenton, was shared directly with decision makers in the U.S. government - helping make clear the broad support for a bold U.S. pledge to protect all kids against leading killers.

Your voice in support of Gavi will translate directly into protecting millions more children, including the most marginalized and hardest to reach kids, and building critical healthcare delivery systems in poor countries. Thank you.

The success of this week's pledging conference is by no means the end of our work, but it is a crucial step in our campaign to accelerate efforts to end preventable child deaths, to create more equitable and effective health systems that reach the poorest and most vulnerable, and to end extreme poverty by 2030.

Your efforts over these next key months to shape the priorities of the new Congress by meeting face-to-face with members of Congress will be essential to ensuring that the Gavi pledge and other poverty-ending measures are funded and that critical policies and reforms to ensure impact and equity are enacted.

Thanks for all you do. It matters!