August 29, 2019 / 11:06 PM / 20 days ago

Vaccines group seeks $7.4 billion to save up to 8 million lives

FILE PHOTO: A Rohingya refugee child gets an oral cholera vaccine, distributed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) with the help of volunteers and local NGO's, in a refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - The GAVI global vaccines alliance on Friday called on donors for $7.4 billion to help immunize 300 million children against life-threatening diseases between 2021 and 2025, and save up to eight million lives.

GAVI, which is backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO), donor governments and others, funds immunization programs for poor nations that cannot afford to buy vaccines at rich-world prices.

“Over the past two decades the Vaccine Alliance has helped to protect a generation against some of the world’s deadliest diseases,” GAVI CEO Seth Berkley said in a statement.

“However, 1.5 million people are still dying every year from vaccine-preventable diseases ... This calls for an urgent response to ensure people continue to be protected against disease, to prevent deadly outbreaks and to help the next generation prosper.”

The announcement was made in Yokohama, where Japan is hosting a three-day international conference on African development. Democratic Republic of Congo, a mineral-rich central African country, is being hit by the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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