$4 Billion Raised at Vaccine Summit, But Will it Be Used Correctly?

The vaccine summit, held on June 13 in London, saw the Foundation and donors pledge over $4 billion to buy vaccines for more than 250 million children.

It is estimated that 2 million children die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases, especially in poor and developing countries all around the world. However, the alliance between The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other international donors aim to change that number. The vaccine summit, held on June 13in London, saw the Foundation and donors pledge over $4 billion to buy vaccines for more than 250 million children while saving 4 million lives in the process.

These vaccines will immunize children from diseases such as yellow fever, measles, and pneumonia. Gates’ foundation donated more than $1 billion on the day of the conference while Prime Minister David Cameron guaranteed $1.3 billion of new funding from the United Kingdom through 2015. Australia announced to committing $211 million to Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the organization at the forefront of the initiative.

While this movement seems to be tremendously beneficial, there are also many risks and skeptics in the way of the plan. Daniel Berman, a vaccines expert for Doctors Without Boarders, questioned how well the millions of taxpayer dollars would be spent. “Why are we lining the pockets of big pharma like this? That just screams conflict of interest and corporate welfare to us.” Many experts also warned that countries with broken health systems receiving donated vaccines might end up storing them in warehouses instead of distributing them among the people who need vaccinations.

Also, A 2009 study published in the journal "The Lancet" showed exaggerated figures on vaccination rates submitted by dozens of developing countries. These false numbers allowed the countries to get more money from the alliance while immunized half as many children as they claimed.

In order to achieve maximum effectiveness, the $4 billion must be distributed both cautiously and wisely. Sophie Harman, a public health expert at City University in London, stated, “Without proper funding commitments to health infrastructure...any investment in vaccines will be redundant.”

Around the Web

Vaccine summit raises $4 billion, but will it be wasted? [CBS News]

Dispute over pneumococcal vaccine initiative [The Lancet]

Vaccines Save Lives: Every Child, Everywhere [The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation]