Last week, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) and their partners put on a conference to raise funding for new global childhood immunization effort, using the combined shot against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and Hib and new pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines. To spread the word, the Twitter hash-tag #4mlives was created, referring to the four million lives potentially saved by the effort. Conference organizers hoped the event would secure $3.7 billion in funding for the immunization campaign. Instead they secured a different number: $4.3 billion.
I can say proudly that the United States has been a strong supporter of GAVI and their work, with both President Obama and former senators Christopher Dodd and Robert Bennett standing firmly behind the mission. Not only that, the US is putting their money where their mouth is, pledging $450 million over the next three years.
The size of the commitment by the United States and international community is a significant step forward for childhood immunizations efforts, one of the most cost-effective means to improving health worldwide. But while an important success, do not let the pledges make you think the job is done. The global health community must continue to pressure world governments to fulfill their commitment in the coming years.