Immunizations are instrumental in saving the lives of
children living in poverty.
Many of the world's
deadliest diseases can be prevented by vaccinations. However, for families
living in poverty, access to health care is often limited, which places children
at greater risk of diseases such as polio, tuberculosis and malaria. Despite the
challenges faced by governments and nonprofit organizations around the world in
expanding access to immunizations to children in need and their families, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and
Immunization has made significant progress toward its goal of immunizing a
quarter of a billion children by 2015.
The alliance was launched in 2000 thanks to a
grant of $750 million provided by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since
the organization's founding, immunization rates worldwide have increased by 10
percent, and childhood mortality caused by preventable diseases has been nearly
halved, from 12 million deaths in 1990 to around 6.5 million today.
Recently, officials from the alliance convened in
Sweden for its official mid-term review. Speaking at the event, GAVI CEO Seth
Berkley emphasized the importance of the program and
the difference it has made to children around the world.
"I am pleased that our partners recognize the
fantastic progress by the GAVI Alliance that has put us firmly on track to reach
our goal of immunizing an additional quarter of a billion children by 2015,
saving 4 million lives," Berkley said.
For 75 years, ChildFund has worked in some of the
world's poorest countries to help provide children and their families with the
lifesaving health care they need, including vaccinations against preventable
diseases such as polio.
In Indonesia, we worked with UNICEF to
provide polio vaccinations to more than 24 million children after the
country experienced a resurgence of the disease in 2005. Uganda is another
country in which many children go without immunizations. Since beginning operations in
Uganda in 1980, ChildFund has supported 50 community-based organizations in
the country's poorest communities to provide families with vaccinations, as well
as malarial and diarrhea prevention services.