Third GAVI Partners Meeting

New Delhi, India
8 December 2005

Ann: Madame Chair, Madam Graca Machel, Honourable Minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, Good morning! .

Allow me to express our thanks to the Government of India for hosting this meeting

It's a particular pleasure to greet Ann Veneman today as Madam Chair. She is not only the session chair, but also the new incoming Chair of the GAVI Board. Congratulations, and thank you for taking on this honourable burden.

It has been a privilege to serve as GAVI Chair for the past two years. Actually, I wanted to stay on for another two years as I was having such an interesting time, but all good things have to come to an end. Given the title of this meeting, I want to reflect briefly on partnership. Some say it's an unnatural act. Here, in this room today, we have some unlikely matches: organizations with very high public profiles, and foundations worth billions of dollars. Egos can get in the way of harmony. It's the same whether you are two individuals trying to live together, or 10 partners trying to work towards a common goal. It's not easy to find the right balance. Yet this is what this particular alliance - the GAVI partnership - has managed to do.

It's been remarkably successful. 1.7 million deaths have been averted; 90 million children have been protected against Hepatitis B, 14 million against Hib, and another 14 million against yellow fever. With just a small secretariat, more than 600 million dollars have been disbursed to 72 out of 75 eligible countries. GAVI is making a huge difference.

The International Financing Facility's choice to finance immunization first is a direct vote of confidence in this Alliance's ability to disburse funds. That trust stems from your success.

When Gordon Brown raised the idea of the Facility almost two years ago in the UK, there was much scepticism. I was one of those who had doubts. I'm glad I was wrong.

The International Financing Facility for Immunization has now been launched, and will bring billions of fresh money to solve old problems. However, implementation of the full global immunization agenda will take even greater resources, provided in sustainable ways that further strengthen health systems.

The Global Immunization Vision and Strategy (GIVS) provides an immunization blueprint which will support child survival - one of the most important Millennium Development Goals. GAVI is well positioned to deliver that promise through funding essential life-saving interventions in the poorest countries. GAVI's work is essential to protect the poorest countries from vaccine-preventable disease, through improving routine immunization coverage, moving swiftly to provide vaccine, and ensuring that we can secure the vast gains made. Here in India we have recently seen an example of how private and public sector commitment can combine with remarkable effect. The rapid six-month development of monovalent oral polio vaccine demonstrated extraordinary teamwork - and produced an excellent and highly effective vaccine. It exemplifies the global commitment this partnership represents: to innovation and speed, both in vaccine development and its accessibility. Despite the progress made, there are still financial barriers to access to care. Interventions to improve child survival must ensure that families and communities themselves participate in the change process. The participation of civil society will be increasingly important through phase 2 of the country support programmes.

Together these elements form a challenging agenda. The next two days set out the opportunity to assess progress and mistakes, and to look to a positive future. I wish you well with this task. You are in very capable hands. In the brief time Ann Veneman and I have worked together, I have developed great respect for her solid leadership. I am sure that, under her chairmanship, the GAVI Alliance will grow and flourish.

Thank you.