Japan is chipping in to provide vaccinations for children in developing countries and doing it in a big way. The Government of Japan has committed an additional $76 million to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which puts their total commitment to almost $100 million between 2016 and 2020. Japan’s donation to Gavi will help facilitate the immunization of 300 million more children which could save as many as 6 million lives!
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a unique public-private global health partnership that brings together the best that the vaccine industry, public health organizations, and philanthropists have to offer to provide access to immunization for children in the developing world.
Gavi was founded in 2000 when the push to expand immunization coverage was lagging despite overwhelming need. Since its inception, Gavi has reached 500 million children and prevented over 7 million deaths. Building on these amazing accomplishments, Gavi hopes to reach another 300 million children by 2020 and prevent over 5 million more deaths. Japan’s contribution is a major step in helping them achieve this goal.
Shockingly, the leading causes of child deaths in the world are two completely curable diseases: pneumonia and diarrhea. Gavi provides children with pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines that help prevent deaths from these diseases. Gavi also supports maternal health in order to prevent deaths due to birth complication. The rubella vaccine protects women against an infection that can lead to miscarriages. The vaccine gives mothers full immunity in 95% cases.
Gavi’s business model hinges on getting developing countries to provide access to vaccinations. Every country that receives aid from Gavi must agree to co-finance part of the cost of immunization. Over time, the portion that the country contributes increases until the country receiving funds reaches its “graduation” from Gavi and is able to self-fund its vaccination program. This process ensures that the developing countries are truly committed to providing vaccinations and will not be reliant on Gavi funds indefinitely. In order to guarantee that vaccinations continue after Gavi funding stops, Gavi also requires that the government of the countries receiving funds allocate the money themselves. When governments decide for themselves how to use the money they receive, they build the proper systems to ensure continued success after they “graduate” from Gavi funding.
Japan began its contributions to Gavi in 2011 with a single-year contribution of $9.3 million. Japan’s most recent pledge of $76 million is significant because it marks Japan’s first multi-year commitment to Gavi. Multi-year commitments are essential to Gavi’s success because they provide more security in funding for developing nations.
Prime Minister Abe of Japan has committed his nation to helping lead the push for a new global health structure. As the host of the recent G7 Summit and the world’s fastest aging nation, Japan is dedicated to building a world health system that can successfully respond to global health crises and promote health throughout the course of life.
Their support indicates Japan’s interest in dealing with infectious diseases and strengthening public health systems in the world’s poorest countries. Japan’s commitment to Gavi is an encouraging sign for the millions of children in need of full immunization throughout the developing world.