A historic step for global child survival

June 20, 2024
by Joanne Carter (she/her), Executive Director of RESULTS

I am writing to you from Paris, France with great news. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance just launched its new five-year strategy to reach more kids with more lifesaving vaccines in less time. In a show of clear support, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden announced via video the Biden Administration’s pledge of a record $1.58 billion over five years to Gavi

This figure represents the largest ever U.S. pledge made to Gavi since its creation. It is the first major pledge before Gavi’s funding summit later this year. The government of Spain also announced a major increase to its funding today. Many more donors signaled their plans for new pledges in the months ahead. As I watched these speeches by European and African heads of state, alongside dignitaries and global health leaders, I know for certain that the tone of this moment would have been different if it weren’t for this network of advocates. Your commitment to child survival and vaccine equity has made history, and your continued advocacy will ensure impact. 

I know I don’t have to tell you what a challenging set of circumstances we face right now. Even today I see coverage in newspapers worldwide about rollbacks in humanitarian aid. In donor countries the world over — including our own — political division has made policy consensus rare and thorny. Such a bold U.S. pledge with ample bipartisan support was never a “given.” A year ago, many people would have said a multi-year pledge from the U.S. may not even happen — let alone one of this size. But you knew the power of your voices. You have taken the time, often years in the making, to build relationships with members of Congress.  

The strength of these relationships can transcend challenges. In the last few years, you’ve helped get nearly half the House of Representatives, across both parties, to take action on Gavi. And you’ve done the same with more than half of the Senate! You have not only grown a bipartisan coalition of support for vaccine access but for the global anti-poverty movement. 

And now is a more important time than ever to have a growing community of anti-poverty allies in Congress. The Biden Administration’s figure of $1.58 billion sets us up for historic success. And now we’ll need Congress to deliver that funding and push the amount even higher. I know that your advocacy will continue, setting Gavi up for impact with their new strategy. 

Today Gavi officially introduced that new five-year strategy. Their ambitious plan aims to save more than 8 million lives. It plans to reach even more children who have never had a dose of vaccine, cutting that number in half. And it will scale up innovation while further centering the leadership of affected communities. As you know, this comes at a critical juncture. Age-old killers like measles and cholera are on the rise. But we have also entered an exciting phase of vaccine renaissance in the wake of COVID-19. There is a brand-new malaria vaccine available. There is a new tuberculosis vaccine in late-stage trials. We know, though, that the lifesaving power of these vaccines is only as strong as its reach. Vaccines cannot do their job if poverty and oppression obstruct universal access. 

Among the other seminal announcements today, steps were taken to launch the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (AVMA). Gavi resources will provide co-financing for this critical vaccine equity tool. The African Union has a goal for African countries to produce 60 percent of the continent’s vaccines by 2040. AVMA is an essential tool for reaching that goal. With AVMA, pathways to deliver shots to communities will be shorter and stronger. It will also help ensure the region can manufacture and access vaccines in the event of another deadly novel virus.  

As you can see, your work on Gavi has compounding effects on global health. But also, you have helped set an important tone for the rest of the world. Lawmakers and heads of state everywhere have taken notice. I had many conversations on the sidelines today with government officials and advocates from around the world. We spoke about the importance of this U.S. pledge, the momentum it created, and how we can leverage it.  

Thanks in large part to your advocacy, the Biden Administration has set the bar high. We’ll push Congress to keep bumping that bar even higher. Gavi is just one of multiple replenishment moments coming soon for invaluable efforts against poverty. With this commitment from the U.S. government, it helps set the tone for all of them. I hope that today you will celebrate. I also know that you are already rolling up your sleeves to take the next action. 

I was so proud to represent you in Paris today. Thank you for all that you do.

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