Power of vaccines almost equal to primary education

Vaccines can help keep children healthy and protect families in the developing world from slipping into poverty, according to Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, a public-private partnership focused on saving children’s lives and protecting people’s health by increasing access to immunisation in poor countries.

Speaking to Vaccines Today, Dr Berkley said vaccines are the most cost-effective intervention in the health sector and the GAVI Alliance’s priority is to bring “these amazing life-saving vaccines to everybody who needs them”.

He said vaccines have an important role to play not just in improving health but also in fostering healthy societies.

“Healthy children lead to healthy societies. We know that the power of vaccines is almost equivalent to that of primary education in terms of cost-benefit ratio,” he said.

Dr Berkley says keeping children in good health helps them to stay in education and means families do not have to spend their resources on healthcare. “When a child gets sick, not only can they not go to school, but also the family – in most of the countries we work in – has to pay out of pocket for healthcare which can tip them into poverty.”

Preventing illnesses can have positive knock-on effects in local economies, he added. “When children stay healthy the family can continue to work, the child can go to school and learn, and the families have more money to invest in their children – and that’s a winning situation.”

Dr Berkley also explains how GAVI chooses which vaccines to roll out and he discusses the impact of the initiative in creating a market for vaccines in the developing world.

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