The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI) was attacked by Save the Children Fund and others for creating lucrative markets for drug companies instead of tackling disease.
GAVI is the first public/private initiative set up with the help of WHO, Rockefeller Institute, the World Bank, and especially Bill Gates, who donated $750m. It now has $1b. It was supposed to improve access to sustainable immunisation services for developing countries.
A report by London School of Hygiene Tropical Medicine reveals how developing countries are sold expensive vaccines such as hepatitis B and Hib (against one form of meningitis) instead of vaccines against dangerous common diseases such as measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, tetanus and tuberculosis.
GAVI has vaccine manufacturers Aventis Pasteur on its board, and a nominee of the Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology representing industry in developing countries.
Ghana took up GAVIs offer to pay for hepatitis B vaccine combined with diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. The manufacturer offered a 5-combination, adding Hib, and increased the cost from $8m to $15.1m.
Article first published February 2002