A girl receives a cholera vaccination during a house-to-house immunization campaign in Sanaa, Yemen April 24, 2019. (Khaled Abdullah/REUTERS)

Canada commits $600M for global vaccination efforts

Canada is pledging $600 million to a global public-private partnership that works on vaccination campaigns in the world’s poorest countries, International Development Minister Karina Gould announced Tuesday.

In addition to the funding for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Canada is committing $47.5 million annually over four years to support the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s strategy, Gould said.

Gould made the announcement at the launch of the Group of Friends of Solidarity for Global Health Security virtual meeting, which she co-hosted alongside her counterparts from Denmark, Qatar, South Korea and Sierra Leone.

The funding investments will help the World Health Organization, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, Gavi and other organizations support the most vulnerable countries by working to ensure that routine immunization continues despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Gould said in a statement.

“As a global community, we must work to ensure that those most vulnerable, including women and children, have access to vaccinations to keep them healthy wherever they live,” Gould said.

“COVID-19 has demonstrated that viruses do not know borders. Our health here in Canada depends on the health of everyone, everywhere.”

Canada’s new commitment provides $475 million in direct contributions and $125 million to the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm), which sells bonds against long-term donor contributions to accelerate funding for Gavi needs, the organization said.

A child receives free polio vaccine during a government-led mass vaccination program in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, October 14, 2019. (Eloisa Lopez/REUTERS)

Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, said they are working with countries to keep immunization programs going, where possible, and are ready to launch mass vaccination campaigns once the immediate crisis is over to prevent a resurgence of deadly diseases.

Gavi officials are also working with countries to prepare their health systems for deployment of vaccines against COVID-19, Berkley said.

“We are extremely grateful to Canada for support at such a critical time for global health. This pledge will be catalytic towards a fully funded Gavi,” Berkley said in a statement.

“Canada’s commitment to the immunization and innovation agenda has been crucial to Gavi’s success in protecting the poorest, most vulnerable children against preventable infectious diseases.”

Since 2000, Gavi has supported the immunization of 760 million children worldwide. The organization estimates that these immunization campaigns have saved more than 13 million lives.

Canada has provided more than $1 billion in funding to Gavi over the last 18 years, including $500 million for the current period from 2016 to 2020, Gould said.

Since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was established in 1988, 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated as a result, she said.

“The world has never been closer to eradicating polio, but the job is not done,” Gould said. “With continued transmission in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we cannot afford to be complacent.”

Michael Messenger, president and CEO, World Vision Canada, said Canada’s commitment was critical for ensuring the the health and wellbeing of children worldwide.

“Globally-coordinated investments like this will save lives,” Messenger said. “We need to keep a global mindset and support the development and delivery of a COVID-19 vaccine, ensuring that girls and boys around the world continue to receive immunizations for other life-threatening diseases, like measles and polio, during the pandemic response.”

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