* Money would fund GAVI's programmes from 2016 to 2020
* GAVI works with drugmakers to cut vaccine costs for poor
* 1.5 mln children a year die of vaccine-preventable disease
By Kate Kelland
LONDON, May 20 The GAVI global vaccines alliance
issued a plea on Tuesday for $7.5 billion to help immunise
another 300 million children against life-threatening diseases
between 2016 and 2020 and save up to 6 million more lives.
GAVI said the additional investments, which it hopes to get
mainly from global health philanthropists and the governments of
developed nations, could double the total number of lives saved
through GAVI-supported vaccines to an estimated 12 million.
"We are faced with an historic opportunity to support
countries to build sustainable immunisation programmes that will
protect entire generations of children," the group's chairman,
Dagfinn Hoybraten, said in a statement.
"The investments we all make now can ensure the equivalent
of two children every second will be reached with GAVI-supported
vaccines for five years and secure the future health and
economic prosperity of all our children in years to come."
GAVI, which is backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Bank,
UNICEF, donor governments and others, funds immunisation
programs for poor nations that cannot afford to buy vaccines at
The group targets common but deadly diseases such as
pneumonia, diarrhoea and cervical cancer and says it has already
saved around 6 million lives since its launch in 2000.
Seth Berkley, GAVI's chief executive, told Reuters that if
the alliance were to achieve its target of an extra $7.5
billion, this would be added to $2 billion already in hand for
the 2016 to 2020 period.
This is around 15 percent more than GAVI has for the current
five-year period, he said, but an acceleration is necessary
because there are still around 1.5 million children who die each
year of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Berkley said the economic benefits of fully funded,
sustainable vaccine programmes in poorer countries would result
in between $80 and $100 billion in gains, partly by cutting the
costs of treating illness, and increasing population
productivity by keeping people alive and well into adulthood.
GAVI uses its private and government donors' backing to
negotiate with pharmaceutical firms such as GlaxoSmithKline
, Merck and Pfizer to bring down vaccine
prices for the poor. It then works with partners to bulk-buy and
deliver them to countries whose populations need them most.
The group says its influence on the vaccines market so far
has led to a 37 percent decrease in the cost for a GAVI-eligible
country to vaccinate a child with pentavalent, pneumococcal and
rotavirus vaccines since 2010.
(Editing by Alison Williams)