Health in the Sahel region: the AFD, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI are working together to increase vaccination rates in six Sahel countries

afdToday, the Agence française de développement (AFD, French Development Agency), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation signed an innovative partnership worth €100 million at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, in the presence of Minister Laurent Fabius and Minister of State for Development and Francophony, Annick Girardin. The partnership aims to increase vaccine coverage in six French-speaking countries of the Sahel region: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Chad.

This three-way financing agreement will facilitate the introduction of new vaccines and renewal of existing programmes, as well as strengthening the healthcare systems of the countries concerned. Thanks to the efforts made by these countries, vaccine coverage has improved significantly in the last decade, but the proportion of children receiving all basic vaccines remains too small.

Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, said that “Healthcare is of capital importance as part of our international action, not only because it is an essential component of development, but also because it is closely linked to human rights and the safety of people, which are issues around which our diplomacy is highly active. I welcome the launch of this partnership aimed at strengthening vaccination programmes and healthcare systems in six Sahel countries, and which shows that ‘coalitions of players’ can be put in place to foster development.”

Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: “France has again taken action to support the Gavi vaccination programme, helping to ensure that hundreds of millions of children receive basic vaccinations and a healthy start in life. France has consistently played a pioneering role in financing programmes designed to strengthen health systems. Despite a challenging economic environment, today France reaffirms its dedication to international cooperation.”

According to Anne Paugam, Director-General of the AFD, “in a context of great change, the AFD is committed to seeking innovative mechanisms by forging new partnerships and developing new instruments, in order to mobilize additional sources of financing. The AFD therefore welcomes this first partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI Alliance, which will help improve the health of people living in the six countries in question and contribute to regional health security.”

“Gavi would like to thank France and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for this investment through the AFD which will contribute to protecting 15 million children against vaccine-preventable diseases, thus saving half a million lives”, said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi. “This innovative partnership once again highlights France’s strong commitment to supporting global health and the development of the most fragile countries.”

France reaffirmed its support for GAVI during the GAVI Pledging Conference in Berlin on 27 January 2015, where the Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Annick Girardin, announced this pilot initiative, in addition to a new commitment of €150 million to the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm). This conference helped raise US$ 7.5 billion to launch effective vaccination campaigns and prepare the future.