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My friend and colleague Owen Barder has just posted (see CGD's Global Health Policy blog) a highly informative and deeply moving call for the G7 finance ministers who will meet in Washington tomorrow to take action on an advance market committment for vaccines that could save the lives of millions of poor people in developing countries.

On the agenda for Friday's G7 Finance Ministers meeting is whether the richest countries should make an Advance Market Commitment to pay for the purchase of new vaccines for developing countries. That idea, which was developed by a CGD Working Group in 2004, has been endorsed in principle, and the G7 Finance Ministers agreed last December that they would aim to pilot the idea in 2006. There has been an enormous effort, led first by Italy and then by the World Bank and GAVI, to address technical issues on how this could be implemented.
The next stage, if there is to be a next stage, is for the Finance Ministers to select one or more diseases to focus on for the pilots, and to provide an indication of the size of commitment they might be willing to make. That will enable the technical discussions to move from the general to the specific. Questions such as how the commitment would be structured, or the nature of the specification a vaccine would have to meet, have different answers depending on the disease being targeted.
We do not expect Finance Ministers to make a firm, legally binding commitment on Friday. But we hope they will take a step further in their enthusiasm for the idea. For this idea to move towards implementation, the Finance Ministers will need to demonstrate leadership required to enable the next phase of technical work to progress.

It's not every day that a finance minister or treasury secretary gets out of bed and has an opportunity to make a decision that could avert the deaths of millions of children each year. Here's hoping that they do the right thing.

Disclaimer

CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.