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Uganda pledges USD 1 million to support vaccine programs in poor countries

FILE PHOTO: A child receives a polio vaccination drop during the nationwide vaccination campaign. 80 million children under the age of one are at risk of disease due to disruptions to vital immunisation programmes because of COVID-19.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda has pledged USD 1 million (3.7 billion Shillings) in funding for vaccine programmes in the world’s poorest countries.

Uganda’s first-ever pledge to be given in installments until 2025, was announced at a Global Vaccines Summit attended by representatives from 52 countries including 35 Heads of State, leaders from global health organisations, the private sector, vaccine manufacturers and civil society organisations via Zoom last evening.

Collectively, the governments pledged USD 8.8 billion in funding for the vaccine programmes. The money that will among others fund vaccine procurement surpassed the initial target set by the Global Vaccines Alliance GAVI of USD 7.4 billion.

The UK, which remains the Vaccine Alliance’s largest donor pledged the equivalent of £330 million per year over the next five years. The biggest pledges came from the global philanthropy organization Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at USD 1.6 billion, Norway, Germany and the United States of America. Other new countries to pledge include Cameroon, Finland, Portugal, Burkina Faso, Greece and New Zealand.

Funds countries raised during the summit include USD 567 million which goes towards a future COVID-19 vaccine for the poor. For this vaccine, GAVI has a set a funding goal of USD 2 billion to ensure access to even the poorest countries in sub-saharan Africa.

According to a poster published on its website, GAVI said with the new money, they hope to reach an additional 300 million children in the next five years noting that in the last 20 years they have managed to avert more than 13 million deaths and hope to save more than seven million other lives.

Gavi, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF have warned that 80 million children under the age of one are at risk of disease due to disruptions to vital immunisation programmes because of COVID-19.

However, of the USD 8.8 billion pledges announced, the biggest percentage was pledged way back before the meeting following calls by the United Nations and other agencies for a people’s vaccine against COVID-19. This call, UK Prime Minister Borris Johnson said while giving his closing remarks meant that no country was to be left behind.

“Together we rise to fulfill the greatest shared endeavour of our lifetime – the triumph of humanity over disease, now and for the generations that follow,” Boris Johnson said.

Overall, 21 percent of the funding comes from the private sector such as pharmaceutical companies and 79 percent from governments and humanitarian agencies.

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