Australia helps to immunise poor kids against killer diseases

World Vision Australia today welcomed the Federal Government’s new commitment to immunising children living in poorer countries against killer diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea.

On Sunday night in London, the Australian Government pledged $200 million over three years to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) fund, which provides greater access to vaccines for children.

“Investing in vaccines is one of the most cost effective ways to cut child deaths,” World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello said.

“Every year, 8 million children die before their 5th birthday, mainly from treatable diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia.

“World Vision estimates Australia’s new pledge – that will fund two new vaccines for diarrhoea and pneumonia - will save approximately 200,000 lives.”

Major public and private donors committed a total of US$ 4.3 billion to the GAVI Alliance. This exceeds an initial target of $3.7 billion, enabling GAVI to reach more children faster than planned and to accelerate the introduction of new vaccines.

The GAVI alliance estimates the funding will immunise more than 250 million of the world’s poorest children against life-threatening diseases by 2015 and prevent more than four million premature deaths.

The United Nations put maternal and child health on the agenda with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000. So far, little progress has been made with MDG 4, which aims to reduce child deaths by two-thirds.

“Although progress has been made in reducing child deaths, from 12.4 million to eight million deaths a year over the past 20 years, we can still do so much more,” Rev Costello said.

“The government’s new pledge to GAVI should be commended as it’s a very effective and low cost way to reduce child deaths and will provide a strong base for Australia’s other child health programs in developing countries.

“It shows the government is focused on using our aid in the most cost effective way possible.”


Tim Costello is available for media interviews. Please call World Vision media officer Sacha Myers on 0457 926 018.

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