Browsing articles in "Vaccines"
14 February 2017
Shawn Clackett

Okonjo-Iweala’s Intervention for the World Economic Forum

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, says finance ministers often fail to see vaccines as investments with high returns.

In her intervention for the World Economic Forum, Okonjo-Iweala argued that “the first step to Africa’s prosperity – saving children’s lives”.

She said for every $1 spent on vaccinating children, the world stands to gain as much as $44.

Okonjo-Iweala: Finance ministers fail to see vaccines as investments with high returns


For Africa, the road to prosperity must begin with investment in its most precious resource. Not its minerals, oil reserves or plantations, but something even more critical to Africa’s future: the health of its children. I don’t mean this figuratively; an investment in children’s health is precisely that. Compelling evidence now suggests that every dollar, shilling, pound or rand spent on preventing disease does not just reduce needless human suffering, but it also makes sound economic sense too.

With more than 30 vaccine doses administered worldwide every second, immunization is already recognized as one of the most cost effective health interventions. But recent research published in the journal Health Affairs, now puts a more precise figure on it. For every dollar invested in childhood immunization we can expect to save $16 in healthcare costs, lost wages and productivity due to illness. If you take into account the full value placed on people living longer, healthier lives, then that return on investment increases even further to $44.

For governments, this represents a huge opportunity. But it also means that when it comes to child health the buck shouldn’t stop with health ministers; protection of child health needs to be a national priority for all government, and all governments. Yet, even though vaccination is such good value, one-in-five children globally are still not getting access to even the most basic shots, with many countries having immunization coverage rates of below 50%, the vast majority in my home continent of Africa. Because of this 1.5 million children still die every year from vaccine preventable diseases.

Part of the problem is failure by leaders to recognize vaccines as a top priority investment. In particular, finance ministers too often fail to recognize that vaccines aren’t just good value for money, but are investments with very high returns. In addition to this there is a widespread assumption within governments and beyond, that childhood mortality is just a matter for health ministers. In reality, it has implications for just about every aspect of government.

That’s because preventing illness through immunization can have a huge impact in helping to contribute to the social and economic wellbeing of individuals, families, communities and countries. A healthy infant does not need medical treatment or care, both of which come at a cost. She also has a greater chance of growing into a healthier child, who is able to attend school and ultimately become a more productive member of society. And instead of caring for a sick child, her parents are in a better position to go out to work and increase their own ability to earn, which means they will have a greater disposable income to feed back into the economy.

All of this is not just good for boosting local and national prosperity; strong routine immunization programmes also form a vital part of robust universal healthcare systems, which are themselves critical to helping national leaders achieve economic and development targets. To put a figure on it, this latest study, which looked at 94 low- and middle-income countries, predicts that between 2011-2020 childhood immunization stands to offer up to $1.43 trillion in economic benefits.

However, if we wish to harness these benefits, as well as further economic returns beyond 2020, then we need to see greater long-term domestic commitment towards immunization. Since 1990 we have seen childhood mortality more than halve, and since 2000 we have witnessed more than 580 million additional children receive vaccines, thanks to organisations like UNICEF, the World Health Organization and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, of which I am the Board Chair. But if this kind of progress is to be sustained then we need to see strong immunization policy backed up by long-term health spending allocation.

That means the focus needs to shift away from just health ministers, and instead engage all aspects of government, in particular finance ministers. As former Finance Minister for Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, I know how important it is for health ministers to make a better case for immunization to finance ministers when it comes to defending their health budget. They need to make finance ministers understand the critical role that reducing infectious disease has in boosting the economy, and the role they have to play in making that happen.

To some extent we have already seen some very positive signs of progress, not least with the former President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, last year agreeing to become Gavi’s Global Ambassador for Immunisation to help spread the word to his peers about the benefits and value of vaccination that he saw in his own country. In addition, we have seen increases in spending on health. Over the next five years we expect to see the 39 poorest African governments contribute around $6 billion towards the cost of immunization. If childhood mortality is to continue to fall we will need to ensure that in the years to come that figure continues to rise.

12 August 2013
Guest Contributor

Early promise for malaria vaccine

A NEW malaria vaccine that mimics the effects of mosquito bites has shown early promise by offering 100 per cent protection to a dozen human volunteers, researchers say.

Article from The Australian – August 12, 2013

Malaria Vaccine

Maryland-based Sanaria’s PfSPZ vaccine contains live parasites and is complicated to make because it requires scientists to dissect the salivary glands of mosquitoes to get at the parasites that cause malaria.

These sporozoites are then weakened so they cannot cause illness and incorporated into a vaccine, which must be injected into a person’s veins several times, with each shot about a month apart.

A test of the same vaccine two years ago that administered it into the skin of patients, the way most vaccines are given, showed protection in only two of 44 volunteers.

But the latest trial showed that injecting the vaccine into the bloodstream protected against malaria in all six volunteers who received a five-shot regimen at the highest dosage, according to the results published in the US journal Science.

The study included 57 people, including 40 who received the vaccine in varying doses, and 17 controls.

Co-author Robert Seder at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told Science the findings were “very promising” but that the vaccine needed more study.

“We need to repeat it in a larger number of people.”

Lead researcher Stephen Hoffman, the chief executive of Sanaria, said he believed the vaccine would eventually be used to eliminate malaria.

“It’s reasonable to suggest that within three-to-five years, a safe, reliable vaccine could be a commercial reality and provide medical benefit to a huge population,” he said.

15 November 2012
Guest Contributor

Australian Parliamentarians join GAVI visit to Myanmar

Last week, the GAVI Alliance coordinated an in-country visit to its programs in Myanmar. Accompanied by a delegation of Australian and New Zealand Parliamentarians, GAVI Chair, Dagfinn Høybråten, and Deputy CEO, Helen Evans, visited a number of GAVI supported clinics and community programs, and met with government officials.

The visit highlighted moreover the groundbreaking work made possible by the commendable contributions of  the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and AusAID in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Australia joined as a supporter of GAVI in 2006 by providing contributions to 2010, subsequently it has committed to a new $200 million pledge from 2011–2013. Since 2000, AusAID and GAVI have contributed to:

  • the immunisation of more than 325 million children against a variety of preventable diseases in the world’s poorest countries
  • the prevention of 5.5 million deaths through immunisation against preventable diseases
  • the development and roll out of new vaccines that protect against pneumonia and diarrhoea—the two leading killers of children under the age of five
  • an increase in vaccine coverage to 82 per cent in developing countries, with a particular focus on the poorest children
  • a significant reduction in global vaccine prices.

The partnership between GAVI and AusAID has also seen the introduction of the pentavalent vaccine—which protects children against five deadly diseases (diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and meningitis) in Myanmar, as well as in Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste.

5 September 2012
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

The Asia-Pacific Development Summit 2012

A team from the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund is currently attending the 2012 Asia-Pacific Development Summit in Jakarta. Between 3 and 5 September participants at the summit are discussing how ‘Public-Private Partnerships can close regional health MDG gaps.

The Indonesian Health Ministry will play a leading role in hosting the conference, partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the ASEAN Foundation, and the Office of the Special Envoy on MDGs to the President of the Republic of Indonesia. Representatives of public and private sectors from six ASEAN member countries  and several countries outside the region, including China, India and the United States are in attendance. Amongst the participants are representatives from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Oil Search Health Foundation. Speakers addressing the summit include  World Health Organization director general Margaret Chan, Indonesian Deputy Health Minister Ali Ghufron Mukti and ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan.

Last week, the director for maternal health of the Indonesian Health Ministry, Gita Maya Koemara Sakti, said that the conference aimed at promoting the strong partnerships between public and private sectors needed for an integrated strategy to improve public health, in particular child and maternal health, and to accelerate progress towards achieving the MDGs by 2015.

The aim of the high-level Development Summit is to identify multi-sectoral initiatives that:

  • strengthen regional networks and policy coordination to address health challenges;
  • amplify the voices of health officials and health stakeholders;
  • catalyse public-private partnerships to close health MDG gaps.

Public-private partnerships have been a driving force behind the life-saving work of the Global Fund, which to date, has prevented the deaths of an estimated 8.7 million lives through treatment and disease prevention. The Global Fund has been instrumental in realising MDG 6 to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and currently provides round 80 per cent of international funding for tuberculosis, 50 per cent for malaria and  approximately 20 per cent for HIV.

The monumental impact of the GAVI Alliance got the spotlight on the second day of the Summit. Chris Elias, President of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation held a compelling presentation about the miracle of vaccines. Shortly followed by a panel discussion in which  Deputy CEO of the GAVI Alliance, Helen Evans, highlighted some of the successes of immunisation.

Today, during the last day of the Summit, traditional and emerging Asia-Pacific development partners will further deepen the conversation to find ways to collectively advance health priorities in the region, and elevate health MDG gaps to the agenda of region fora.

8 March 2012
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

International Women’s Day: The Impact of Vaccines on the Health of Girls and Women

Today on March 8th we celebrate International Women’s Day, on which the GAVI Alliance highlights the power of vaccines to deliver good health to girls and women living in developing countries. With a focus today on two vaccines which can benefit the health of women – human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines against cervical cancer and rubella vaccines against congenital rubella syndrome.

First, the general impact of vaccines is discussed by GAVI CEO, Seth Berkley, in a post about Delivering on the promise for girls and women, next their Deputy CEO, Helen Evans, writes about Doubling our Impact in a Single Shot in the fight against rubella and measles, and finally HPV vaccine inventor Ian Frazer talks about how his idea of a HPV vaccine has become reality, in the interview below.

Professor Ian Frazer discusses his invention of the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer.
Source: GAVI/2012

Pacific Friends operates as a program within the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales.

Pacific Friends

Professor Janice Reid AC
Bill Bowtell AO
Executive Director

Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a high-level advocacy organisation which seeks to mobilise regional awareness of the serious threat posed by HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to societies and economies in the Pacific. In pursuing its goals Pacific Friends has a specific interest in highlighting the need to protect the rights of women and children in the Pacific.



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