Today, national leaders, CEOs, NGO representatives and leading international stakeholders will gather in London to attend a pledging conference on immunisation hosted by David Cameron in conjunction with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI).
The conference is one of the most significant international development events of the year. It has been organised so that the GAVI Alliance, the leading global organisation committed to vaccinating against preventable diseases, can call on national governments and organisations to supply additional funding for their immunisation programmes so that by 2015 they can immunise 243 million children and save four million deaths against some of the deadliest diseases in the developing world.
It is a vital international meeting and the fact it is being held in London highlights the impact that the Coalition Government has made within the international development community. Andrew Mitchell and David Cameron have led the way globally on many international development issues and have shown that the Conservative Party now places international development as a core policy area, with ring fenced spending and the goal that by 2013, 0.7% of GNI will be spent on overseas aid. David Cameron has even promised that this will be enshrined in law, to lock in future governments.
Some critics have highlighted that the greater focus on international development means an increase in funding and highlight areas like the Ministry of Defence where budgets are being cut. But, as I have found out through my work with the APPG for Global Action Against Childhood Pneumonia, properly targeted international funding is a very sound investment built on strong moral and national aims.
The GAVI Alliance’s work to date is a prime example. Since their establishment in 2000 GAVI have vaccinated over 288 million children and saved an estimated 5 million deaths. The vaccines supplied by GAVI tackle the biggest killers in the developing world. Pneumonia, the leading cause of under-five deaths globally, is entirely preventable and this year the GAVI Alliance has rolled out the life-saving vaccine in some of the poorest countries across the world.
Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Kenya and Yemen have all received the vaccine, which could save thousands of lives each year. Even more countries will be receiving the vaccine throughout the year and this is a result of the UK’s funding to organisations such as the GAVI Alliance. These vaccines are protecting the young of these countries and building futures, not only for the children, but for the country that will rely on their efforts to grow.
There is a myth that all NGOs are layered with bureaucracy and waste money, but the Government’s Multi-Lateral Aid Review showed that properly run NGOs, such as the GAVI Alliance, deliver value for money in their aid projects.
The policies pursued so far by the Government are extremely encouraging and have highlighted that international development is a core policy for the Conservative Party of David Cameron. So when people ask if pledging conferences like the one in Londontoday are important and if aid funding is a good use of money, they should be directed to the clear and accountable results that are being achieved on the ground in the developing world.