The Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has revealed that a leadership role can be played by the country with regard to generating vaccines which are effective, low cost, and easy-to-deliver. He made this statement while inaugurating the third Global Alliance on Vaccination and Immunization (GAVI) Partners' meeting. The low cost vaccines produced in India are reportedly affordable where developing nations are concerned, and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) procures more than 60% of its vaccines requirements from India.
Low cost anti-AIDS drugs are also produced in the country. A careful investment strategy has to be developed by GAVI to catalyze and accelerate the vaccine program, according to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, who is also the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Co-Founder. Norway has also promised to raise its contribution towards global immunization US$ 75 million in 2006, and seeks to raise this further to US$ 1 billion by 2015. An additional amount of US$ 750 million has been pledged by the Gates Foundation to GAVI until 2015.
Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, the Health Minister of India stressed upon the need to develop more effective and newer vaccines in the country against diseases like the rota virus, malaria, and HIV. Under-utilized vaccines can contribute towards saving an additional 1.1 million lives, according to Ms Ann Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director and Chair of the Board of the GAVI Alliance. The GAVI meeting marks the second phase of the program of the alliance aimed at covering more children across the world with more vaccines.
The pharmaceutical industry in India has contributed towards reducing the production cost of the anti- Hepatitis B vaccine and the anti-retroviral drugs meant for treating HIV patients, according to the Prime Minister. India's universal immunization program has served to bring down the incidence of whooping cough by 91%, diphtheria by 72%, and measles by 61%. India accounts for one third of the total number of children in the world who have not been immunized.
As many as 70 nations receive multi-year grants from GAVI for immunization programs, which in turn receives contributions from countries like Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Ireland, Canada, the US, Sweden, Britain, and the European Union (EU). The alliance partners of GAVI are also inclusive of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As many as .214 billion single-use, auto-disposable (AD) syringes have been distributed by the GAVI alliance across the world.