GAVI alliance distributes vaccines to 37 countries

The GAVI Alliance, a group of aid agencies, foundations and vaccine manufacturers, recently announced that vaccines against major childhood diseases are to be distributed in 37 more countries, 24 of which are located in Africa.

The alliance announced in Geneva that it has approved the applications of 16 countries asking for funding for the rotavirus vaccine against diarrhea and from 18 countries asking for funding for the pneumococcal vaccine against pneumonia, according to the L.A. Times.

Under the new funding regime, 12 more countries will join Sudan, becoming the first group to add the rotavirus vaccine to their national immunization programs. The World Health Organization recommended this change in 2009.

“The death toll of rotavirus and pneumococcal infections in Africa is particularly devastating, and this is where these vaccines will make the most significant impact, not only in lives saved, but also in terms of healthy lives lived,” GAVI Alliance chief executive Seth Berkley said, the L.A. Times reports.

By 2015, the GAVI alliance hopes to offer funding to 40 developing countries in an effort to immunize more than 50 million children against rotavirus. By the same time, they plan on immunizing more than 90 million children against pneumococcal disease.

"These new vaccines will prevent millions of children from dying of pneumonia and diarrhea, the biggest killers of children under five," Anthony Lake, the executive director of UNCIEF, said, the L.A. Times reports. "In rolling out these vaccines, we need to focus especially on reaching the children at greatest risk, for it is among the most vulnerable that these vaccines can make the biggest difference, especially if they are combined with better nutrition, sanitation and other critical interventions."