It’s a rite of passage — parents taking their children to a doctor or nurse to be immunized against diseases that once threatened their grandparents’ generation. Yet, still today, too many children in the world’s poorest countries suffer from vaccine-preventable, life-threatening illnesses such as measles, diarrheal diseases, and pneumonia. And even here at home, we are seeing increasing outbreaks of measles due to gaps in vaccine coverage.
Today, the United States has joined our friends and allies to take a giant leap forward to address these preventable tragedies. Consistent with President Obama’s vision to end extreme poverty and fight disease, the United States is committing $1 billion over four years to GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance.
Created in 2000, GAVI has brought together public- and private-sector partners to immunize 500 million children, saving an estimated 7 million lives in the world’s poorest countries. The U.S. pledge is pending the approval of Congress, which has provided strong bipartisan support for GAVI since the Alliance was founded.
Together with our partners, our contribution will enable GAVI to immunize and protect 300 million children in the world’s poorest countries from preventable, life-threatening illnesses such as measles, diarrheal disease, and pneumonia, and can save an additional 6 million lives by 2020.
This is global leadership at its best. There is no better investment than in the future of our children, and we have no greater responsibility than protecting them. Vaccines save lives, both at home and abroad, and today’s pledge will pay dividends for generations to come.
Gayle Smith is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director at the National Security Council. Brian Deese is the Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget