Last week, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, completed a $7.5 billion replenishment to fund its work on immunization in the world’s poorest countries between now and 2020. Gavi’s next step is to ensure that the money is used as effectively as possible to save lives and improve health.
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In 2011, US officials admitted they used a fake vaccination drive in Abbottabad, Pakistan as part of an effort to gather intelligence on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.
This week, eight polio vaccination workers in Sindh and Peshawar have been killed in Pakistan during a three day anti-polio drive (see here). Last week in Afghanistan, two polio vaccinators were also killed. Suspicions of CIA involvement in the campaign have been identified as causes of the attacks. “Our teams are getting attacked, and we are having a hard time hiring health workers because they are worried about being called a spy,” said the Head of Medicine in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province earlier this summer.
This blog was co-authored with Orin Levine, Executive Director, International Vaccine Access Center, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and it will be cross-posted on his Huffington Post blog at www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-orin-levine
In low- and middle-income countries, children living in poverty are much less likely to be vaccinated and more likely to die or become ill from a vaccine-preventable disease than better-off children. An example comes from Nigeria, where less than 5% of children in the lowest quintile of the wealth distribution were fully vaccinated in 2003, as opposed to 40% of children in the wealthiest quintile. (For more on inequalities in health, see here)
Progressive development thinkers have welcomed the announcement of new money for the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization (GAVI), and support the partnership between governments and the private sector. A minority of NGOs have criticized GAVI on the grounds that it is too cozy with pharmaceutical companies. But we should be encouraging more, not less, engagement by pharmaceutical companies in the health needs of developing countries. Perhaps pharmaceutical companies have done more for the world’s poor than the aid industry?