Media Release

Australian support for global vaccination programs will help save millions of lives worldwide

June 21st, 2024

Published: June 21st, 2024

Media release

Pacific Friends of Global Health calls on the Australian Government to get strongly behind a new strategy launched today by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, that outlines its ambitious goal to immunise at least 500 million children between 2026 and 2030, saving more than 8 million lives.

Pacific Friends of Global Health said achieving the targets outlined in the strategy will build on Gavi’s successes to date, which have seen more than a billion children immunised since 2000.

“In lower income settings in particular, investment in vaccination is at least the equivalent of the best value investment-return ratio there is,” said Professor Brendan Crabb AC, chair of Pacific Friends of Global Health.

“This is clearly true in terms of health, but it is also true in the flow on development effects of educational and economic advancement, and societal stability and security that follows. In just one remarkable example, each US$1 of investment in immunisation brings an extraordinary US$54 in wider economic benefits to these communities.

“And GAVI, with its power of scale and demonstrated track record, is by far the most effective way to deliver vaccines to countries that can’t afford them.

“Gavi has delivered extraordinary value to Australian taxpayers, who continue to be strong supporters of the global child vaccination effort, which has saved more than 17 million lives since 2000.

“A child born today in a Gavi-supported country is 70 per cent less likely to die from a vaccine-preventable disease before their fifth birthday than when the Alliance was established in 2000.

“However, it’s crucial that Gavi receives the support it needs to continue—and accelerate—its efforts. More than 10 million children a year born in lower-income countries are still not receiving even a single vaccine, with a growing set of challenges threatening to derail hard-fought progress.”

In the Asia-Pacific region, the climate crisis is causing a surge in extreme weather events, fuelling outbreaks, displacing communities, and altering the spread of climate-sensitive diseases such as malaria, dengue, cholera, and yellow fever. Coupled with growing levels of conflict, population growth, and with health services still working to rebound from the disruption of COVID-19, the need for a fully resourced response has never been greater.

“The next pandemic or other major global health threat may be just around the corner, and ensuring we can reach all children with the vaccines they need to fight preventable diseases will ensure populations and health systems are more resilient to shocks, and most importantly, it will save lives.”

Gavi is a global partnership of governments, foundations, civil society and private sector organisations who pool demand for vaccines in lower-income countries and purchase them at scale, delivering profound cost savings.

As part of the new strategy, between 2026 and 2030 Gavi aims to:

● immunise at least 500 million children, which will save 8 million to 9 million lives
● save 1.5 million lives by vaccinating more than 120 million girls against HPV
● vaccinate over 50 million children against malaria, one of the biggest global killers of children under 5
● reduce prices across at least 50% of Gavi’s vaccine portfolio, generating up to US$800 million of efficiency savings.
● generate at least US$100 billion in economic benefits for Gavi implementing countries.

To deliver on this ambitious plan, Gavi will need at least US$9 billion in additional resources for the period 2026–2030, including US$1.7 billion of flexible, long-term funding financed through commitments to the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm). Overnight, at least US$2.4bn was made in early pledges towards that goal from donors including the US, France and Spain.

Professor Crabb said Australia’s investment in Gavi helps make the world, including the South East Asia and Pacific regions, safer, while delivering compelling economic benefits.

“As the world learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, diseases don’t stop at borders,” he said.

“Investing to tackle infectious disease in our region and further abroad helps create a safer world for everyone.

“Australia has a long history of support to Gavi, having been a donor since 2006 and providing more than $366 million in contributions and pledges between 2021 and 2025 via routine and Covid-19 vaccination support. In addition, we have a proud track record of Australian leadership and contributions to immunology, virology, vaccine development and global public health—including through the local development of the Rotavirus and HPV vaccines, the latter of which has helped set the world on a very real and possible path towards virtual elimination of cervical cancer within the century.

“The HPV vaccine, which earlier this year commenced rollout in Timor-Leste, joins a growing list of new and exciting vaccines in Gavi’s portfolio. We now have two malaria vaccines being rolled out in some of the world’s most at-risk countries, and just last week, new vaccines to tackle Ebola, meningitis, human rabies and hepatitis B were announced. We’re particularly excited to see a dengue and tuberculosis vaccine in the pipeline, two diseases causing significant burden to the health and wellbeing of communities in some of Australia’s closest neighbours.

“It is important that we continue to lead by example by supporting Gavi to save lives and improve global health outcomes and Pacific Friends looks forward to working with the Australian Government towards achieving this.”

Contact: Nick Lucchinelli 0422229032