Effective use of development aid: rotavirus vaccines save children’s lives
By Eric Avebury
Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea among infants and young children and remains a major killer of children under five years of age worldwide, taking the lives of nearly half a million children each year and hospitalising millions more. More than 1,200 young children will die from rotavirus diarrhoea each day and 95% of all rotavirus deaths occur in developing countries in Africa and Asia, where access to treatment for severe rotavirus diarrhoea is limited or unavailable. In these countries, vaccination offers the best hope for preventing severe rotavirus disease and the deadly dehydrating diarrhoea that it causes. Rotavirus vaccines are saving lives today in countries where children have access to them.
Investment in rotavirus vaccines through the GAVI Alliance is a cost-effective investment, delivering enormous value for money, generating concrete results and saving children’s lives from deadly diarrhoea, one of the top two killers of young children worldwide.
As Co-Chair of the UK All Party parliamentary Group for Global Action against Childhood Pneumonia (APPG) I have worked for many years to encourage greater roll out of vaccines globally. While the key focus of our APPG is on pneumonia, tackling diarrhoea is a crucial priority to meet MDG4. Successive British governments have invested in the work of the GAVI Alliance with the aim of reducing child deaths and the UK’s pledge in June 2011 of up to £814 million to GAVI reaffirms this commitment to life saving interventions. In the recent multilaterial aid review by the Department for International Development (DFID), GAVI’s work was ranked first for evidence-based outcomes showing that the contribution by the British Government was not only money well spent but will make an enormous contribution to saving lives across the world. GAVI’s support for the affordable and financially sustainable introduction of rotavirus vaccines in national immunisation programmes will have a dramatic impact on global rotavirus diarrhoea mortality.
By 2015, GAVI plans to support the introduction of rotavirus vaccines in 40 countries, immunising more than 50 million children and saving millions of lives. GAVI is an excellent example of aid being used effectively and responsibly.
I am very proud of the leading role the UK has played in calling for new donors to invest in successful and cost-effective aid interventions to prevent child health, such as vaccines and immunisation. Our APPG will continue to encourage global development leaders to keep their promises and to ensure that pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines reach the children who need them most.
Eric Avebury is Co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Global Action against Childhood Pneumonia