New vaccine promise for developing world

UK finance minister Gordon Brown unveiled his $4bn scheme to improve immunisation in the developing world on Friday, warning that the west had to keep its promises to help cut child deaths.

The International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) is the chancellor’s brainchild and the product of many months of hard negotiation. Ministers from France, Spain, Italy and Sweden along with Mr Brown announced their financial contributions. The launch comes on the eve of a UN summit to assess the Millennium Development Goals — ambitious targets to slash poverty, child mortality and improve health, education and living conditions in poor countries. The $4bn will be given over 10 years to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and

Immunisaton (Gavi) which is working to deliver vaccines for diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and hepatitis B. Gavi expects to be able to save 5 million children by 2015 and 5 million more thereafter, in addition to the 1.5 million who will be protected at the current level of funding. The UK is putting in 35 per cent, the biggest contribution, worth $130m a year for 10 years. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $750m over 10 years in January.

David Woodward, director of global and national economies at the New Economics Foundation, told BBC Radio 4: “For every dollar in additional aid now, roughly $1.5 will be coming off the budget after 2015.”