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Immunol Cell Biol. 2003 Feb;81(1):20-2.

Gates, GAVI, the glorious global funds and more: all you ever wanted to know.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Global immunization programmes have achieved some remarkable successes. In 1977, Frank Fenner's Commission declared smallpox to have been eradicated by an 11-year-long intensive campaign. The Expanded Programme on Immunization encompassed six important childhood vaccines and reached over three-quarters of the world's children. Polio eradication has gone remarkably well, with only 10 out of 200 countries reporting residual cases. But amidst all the good news, there is also bad news. Coverage is variable; infrastructure is crumbling; and newer vaccines are not being incorporated in many country programmes. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has introduced a new dynamic here. From their initial gift of $100 million in December 1998, their commitment to date is US$1.5 billion - and rising. At the centre is a Global Children's Vaccine Fund which permitted the launch, in January 2000, of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. This is targeted to the 74 poorest countries of the world and is designed to improve vaccination infrastructure, to purchase newer vaccines and to support research and development. Even before we know how successful this programme will be, it has had its imitators. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria borrowed many concepts from GAVI. The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition announced in May 2002 does so as well, and is heavily supported by Gates. Highly effective parasite control programmes antedate all this but will be much strengthened. However, we still face a sizeable budgetary gap both for research and for bringing the best advances to all people who need them.

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