New Zealand will commit NZ$ 7 million to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to help protect children in the most vulnerable Pacific nations against deadly diseases like measles, polio and cervical cancer, as well as the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in lower-income countries.
The pledge marks New Zealand’s first contribution to a Gavi replenishment and comes less than two weeks ahead of the Global Vaccine Summit, hosted by the UK government on 4 June, which aims to raise at least US$ 7.4 billion for Gavi’s next five-year period.
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New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Peters said, “COVID-19 is proof on a global scale, of the devastation highly contagious illness can have when innocent populations are caught off guard. This funding has been targeted to support the vaccination of vulnerable children in our Pacific neighbourhood, protecting them from a number of high-risk diseases. The funding will also contribute to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response more widely. It is the responsibility of every nation to work together to tackle COVID-19 and to prepare for, and minimise, any future disease outbreaks.”
Gavi Board Chair, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said, “The measles outbreak in the Pacific last year is a stark reminder of how important routine immunisation is. This holds true especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. By contributing to the Vaccine Alliance, today New Zealand is sending a strong message of solidarity to other nations and helping us to prevent the resurgence of other deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases. One pandemic is enough.”
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Gavi currently supports the immunisation of children in four Pacific countries: Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.
As well as continuing to support routine immunisation and vaccine campaigns in 68 countries, Gavi has made up to US$ 200 million available to help lower-income countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, US$ 71.3 million of which has been approved for 39 countries with acute needs. This funding is supporting the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), diagnostics and other vital medical equipment, as well as fund disease surveillance and communications activities.
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Over the past two decades, Gavi has helped to immunise more than 760 million children, saving more than 13 million lives. Over that time, the Alliance has also worked to strengthen health systems in the world’s poorest countries and establish vaccine stockpiles against serious global health security threats, including Ebola.