The funds will support UNICEF's Vaccine Independence Initiative (VII), a mechanism that provides low-income countries waiting for national budget funds to be released with access to short-term bridge "loans" they can use to purchase vaccines. VII also assists governments in strengthening their planning and budgeting processes, enabling them to better manage their vaccine procurement pipelines. With recent contributions from GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance and the United States Fund for UNICEF, funding in support of the initiative has more than doubled over the past year, from $15 million to $35 million.
Currently, more than sixty low-income countries benefit from GAVI assistance, and VII is designed to help those countries as their economies grow and transition away from GAVI support.
"Financing mechanisms such as the VII is an essential part of a vaccine supply financing toolkit to improve financial sustainability and ensure supplies are reaching children when they are most needed," said Shanelle Hall, UNICEF deputy executive director for field results. "We look forward to continuing our work supporting countries, together with the foundation and other donors and partners. It is especially critical now, in light of many countries graduating from donor support, inequities in middle income countries, and the broader Sustainable Development Goals agenda."
"We know from speaking with government leaders around the world that countries transitioning from GAVI support can face some significant short-term budget and technical difficulties securing their own vaccines," said Orin Levine, director of vaccine delivery at the Gates Foundation. "The foundation, along other partners in the GAVI Alliance, are committed to helping countries address these challenges, and the VII is one tool that we have to make sure that children, no matter where they live, are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases."