IMA World Health/Kara Eberle

“Some of the world’s most deadly and debilitating diseases are entirely preventable through immunisation.”

— United Kingdom Secretary for International Development Justine Greening

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ithout proper prevention and treatment, disease traps people – especially women and children – in a cycle of illness and poverty.

Millions of people suffer and die every year from preventable and treatable diseases, but IMA World Health is committed to saving and improving lives by targeting a number of these common diseases through immunizations.

For example, 294,416 MMR  (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccines have been given in Kasaï Occidental, Maniema, Equateur, Oriental and South Kivu in DR Congo since 2013 under the Access to Primary Health Care Project (ASSP).

Part of IMA’s commitment to immunization includes working with and supporting Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Gavi is an international organization that brings together public and private sectors with a shared goal: to create equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries, according to its website, http://www.gavi.org.

IMA’s President and CEO Rick Santos serves on the Steering Committee for the Gavi Alliance’s Civil Society (CSO) Constituency, a relationship that shows IMA’s deep organizational commitment to the health and well-being of children and families worldwide.

“As global health organizations, we must work together to increase access to vaccines for those most in need,” Santos remarked. “We have seen a decline in preventable diseases that immunization can accomplish, but there’s more work to be done. CSOs are an absolutely critical part of this important work.”

The Gavi CSO Constituency consists of a diverse network of CSOs motivated to support the Alliance’s mission. The CSO Steering Committee is a group of 20 CSO representatives and is responsible for synthesizing broader feedback from the Civil Society Forum into specific inputs for the Board member, Alternate member, and other CSO Committee/task team.

Much of that work depends on new funding that would support Gavi’s efforts to enable the world’s 73 poorest countries to immunize an additional 300 million children from 2016 to 2020, saving 5 to 6 million lives.

As part of Gavi’s replenishment period, the United Kingdom is remaining a leading supporter and is contributing up to an additional £1 billion (or more than $1.2 billion in U.S. dollars) toward vaccination programs. The investment will help Gavi support an “unprecedented scale up of vaccine programs against pneumonia and diarrhea, two of the leading killers of children under the age of five, as well as plan to vaccinate 30 million girls in 40 countries against the leading cause of cervical cancer,” according to a Gavi news release.

Canada is contributing C$ 500 million (about $416 million in U.S. dollars ), more than doubling its contribution to Gavi and means the country will have invested more than C$ 1 billion in the Vaccine Alliance by 2020.

“Access to life-saving vaccines in developing countries is a critical element to saving millions of young lives,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “Gavi can meet this goal with its next replenishment.”

The United States has also given final approval to contribute $200 million to Gavi, the largest single-year contribution ever made to the organization. The contribution to Gavi is part of the $715 million approved for USAID’s Maternal and Child Health programs. The U.S. is one of Gavi’s original six donors, and with fiscal year 2015 funding it will have contributed nearly $1.4 billion since its inception.

Gavi’s current goal is to increase to 50 percent from 5 percent the number of children who receive all vaccines recommended by the World Health Organization. To meet those goals, Gavi needs $7.5 billion from donors, the focus of a pledging event on Jan. 27 in Berlin, hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to a Gavi news release.

IMA supports Gavi in its replenishment efforts and calls for more countries to make the commitment to put an end to the cycle of illness and poverty and save the lives of millions of men, women and children.

“Immunisation is one of the most cost-effective and impactful investments we can make.”

— Dr. Gerd Muller, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development

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Battling Ebola

Gavi has announced plans to purchase millions of doses of an Ebola vaccine to support large-scale vaccination efforts, which means it will be ready to act as soon as a vaccine is recommended for use by the World Health Organization.

As the response to the Ebola outbreak continues, IMA is providing equipment to keep health workers safe while treating Ebola patients. To help with those efforts, donate today.