Australia increases its aid to help save children’s lives in the developing world

Media releases

The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP
7 October 2010

Australia will be investing $60 million over three years to help give children in developing countries life saving vaccines.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd today announced that Australia will double its previous level of support to the critical work of GAVI Alliance and its efforts to combat two of the biggest childhood killers – pneumonia resulting from pneumococcal disease and diarrhoea triggered by rotavirus.

GAVI is an innovative international fund working to increase access to immunisation in the world’s poorest countries.

“GAVI has achieved outstanding results in the last decade giving children in the developing world access to immunisation to ensure survival into adulthood,” Mr Rudd said.

“Pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia, takes a devastating toll in developing

countries.  Recent UN estimates show that some 8 million children died before their fifth birthday in 2009, with pneumonia accounting for nearly one fifth of these deaths.

“Pneumococcal meningitis is also responsible for leaving children with serious disabilities, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy, brain damage, kidney disease, deafness, limb amputations and developmental delays.

“Pneumococcal is preventable with currently available vaccines.

“This expanded commitment from Australia will help achieve a major reduction in children’s death from vaccine-preventable diseases,” Mr Rudd said.

Vaccines will also be delivered against rotavirus, which is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea among infants and young children.   Children in the poorest countries account for 85 percent of deaths from rotavirus.

Mary Robinson, Chair of the GAVI Alliance Board welcomed the increased funding, which will help millions of children from the world’s poorest countries grow up free from disease, go to school, and lead full, healthy productive lives.

“Immunisation against preventable diseases should be considered the cornerstone of any development programme,” Ms Robinson said.

“Immunisation is one of the most powerful development interventions that we have. It is proven and cost-effective.  But although we have made enormous progress so far, we have much more to do to protect the millions of children who are still dying from vaccine preventable diseases. We will not rest until all children are reached with vaccines.”

GAVI will also use the new funding to continue working with governments to improve their capacity to deliver life-saving vaccines.

Over the past decade GAVI has helped countries to:

  • immunise more than 257 million children
  • prevent an estimated 5.4 million future deaths through routine immunisation
  • raise immunisation rates in poor counties to an unprecedented 80 per cent average
  • reduce the time lag for introducing new vaccines, such as for Hepatitis B, into poorer countries

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