At today's GAVI conference, world leaders, businesses and charities pledged over $4.3 billion (£2.6 billion) in funding for new vaccines and immunisation programmes, which could save up to 4 million lives.
"The outcome of this pledging conference is exciting and tremendous news which will save millions of the most threatened children around the world," said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director.
UNICEF, a founding member of GAVI, is in the unique position of being involved at every stage of the immunisation process, supplying vaccines to 56 per cent of the world’s children and working on the ground in over 150 countries.
On behalf of GAVI, UNICEF purchased over 2.5 billion doses of traditional and new vaccines in 2010, worth almost £460 million.
UNICEF’s procurement of vaccines is guided by a strategy that entails working with multiple, WHO-approved suppliers to discourage monopolies; accurately forecasting multi-year global vaccine needs in order to negotiate favourable prices and ensure an adequate supply of vaccines; and securing the safe and timely delivery of the vaccines to countries.
Beyond procurement, UNICEF works with governments to help deliver vaccines to communities, train vaccinators, and ensure that parents and caregivers understand the importance of immunization and how to access it.
The GAVI Alliance, UNICEF and partners aim to save an additional four million children’s lives by 2015 by increasing access to new and traditional vaccines. Despite significant progress in reducing childhood mortality, nearly two million children still die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.
"For the first time in history, children in developing countries will receive the same vaccines against diarrhea and pneumonia as children in rich countries," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, at the conference earlier today. "If we can save four million lives in 4 hours, it's worth every minute."
If you've been inspired by what you've read about our vaccination work, you too could make a difference. You can save lives right now by paying for 100 measles, vaccines or polio vaccines from the UNICEF Inspired Gifts shop.
Read more about UNICEF's immunisation work, or watch a webcast of the GAVI conference.