Burnet Institute welcomes Australia’s new pledge of AUD$300 million to Gavi, the vaccine alliance, to improve access to vaccines in the Indo-Pacific region amidst the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Australia’s contribution, announced at the 2020 Global Vaccine Summit in London, will help to sustain and accelerate Gavi’s lifesaving work in some of the most vulnerable countries.
Gavi will invest US$800 million from 2021 to provide access to vaccines for 140 million children in the Indo-Pacific region over the next five years.
In Indonesia, four million children will access pneumococcal vaccines at a quarter of the commercial cost, while in Papua New Guinea, 400,000 children will access life-saving vaccines for the first time.
Burnet Institute CEO and Pacific Friends of Global Health Chair, Professor Brendan Crabb AC, congratulated the Australian Government for its continued commitment to the Pacific region.
“COVID-19 is disrupting life-saving immunisation services around the world, putting millions of children – particularly in our vulnerable Pacific regions – at risk of diseases like diphtheria, measles and polio,” said Professor Crabb.
“Children in our region such as in Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, Solomon Islands and Kiribati are now protected against more vaccine-preventable diseases than at any point in history.”
Professor Crabb said the maintenance of immunisation programs would not only prevent further outbreaks of diseases like measles and polio, but ensure the infrastructure needed to roll out an eventual COVID-19 vaccine on a global scale.
“This has health security implications for Australia, with the potential regression of decades of work in immunising against preventable diseases,” he said.
“COVID-19 is a stark reminder of the importance of resilient health systems and critical importance of vaccines.”
Gavi is a public-private partnership that provides access to vaccines for low-income countries.
Over the past two decades, Gavi has supported 16 countries in the Indo-Pacific with more than US$3 billion in vaccine and health system support, and has directly contributed to the health of over 318 million children in our region through immunisation.