Thursday 30 September 2004
A mass immunisation programme for children in the developing world who contract easily-preventable diseases -- tetanus, measles, polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, hepatitis b, yellow fever and gastroenteritis -- is on the anvil. The governments of Britain and France and the founder of Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates, are backing this global healthcare project. The us $4 billion public-private vaccination project, initiated by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (gavi), an umbrella body that includes governments, non-governmental organisations and the private sector, will culminate in the launch, in mid-2005, of a global immunisation campaign aimed at saving the lives of up to three million children. Under the proposal, 15-year government-backed bonds will be floated in the world's capital markets. There will be two five-year disbursement phases followed by a five-year period in which those who have bought bonds will be repaid. The extra money will be spent on effective programmes in 56 low-income countries. gavi will also embark on a long-term procurement programme of new and under-utilised vaccines, launch campaigns to provide nationwide immunity and stockpile oral polio vaccines.